Oldham County Day 2003

Project Guild created event
to show community pride

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2003) – -If the founding fathers of Oldham County could have seen into the future, they would probably have been proud of the efforts of the Project Guild to bring people in the community together.
Oldham County was established in 1824 from parts of Shelby, Henry and Jefferson counties. It has grown since then to become a home to farmers, factory workers, artists and executives. As the largest city and county seat, La Grange plays host to the annual Oldham County Day, an event sponsored by Project Guild.
Established in August 1964, Project Guild of La Grange Inc. was first composed of 14 young homemakers. These charter members met to share project ideas. After a while, they decided it was time to “do something for the community,” said Victoria Motyka, vice president and Oldham County Day chairperson. The members wanted to establish a “fun, old-fashioned day,” said Motyka.

Leslie Biss and Mary Broecker

Photo by Don Ward

Project Guild members
Leslie Biss and Mary Broecker

This need to serve their community evolved into the annual Oldham County Day, held the third Saturday in July. Since 1971, Project Guild has played host to this opportunity to celebrate community pride and provide fun for people of all ages.
Nancy Crass was president of the Guild then, and many current members credit her with the idea of beginning Oldham County Day. Crass came from a small town that celebrated community pride. She envisioned a day that would be “a reunion. And it has been. People return every year for this event.”
Crass instigated a concept that would honor the county’s heritage as well. In keeping with the idea of an old-fashioned day, she said members of the Guild wore long dresses for the first Oldham County Day. Only a handful of booths were on the courthouse lawn; one contained homemade ice cream, and the Project Guild’s booth had “real lemonade” for sale, she said.
One staple of Oldham County Day is its 10 a.m. parade through town. When Motyka moved to Oldham County, she said she “was in awe of the parade.” Having always lived in small towns, she felt a desire to become involved in community service in the town in which she lived. The Project Guild provided her this chance.
Every parade has had a grand marshal. This year the honor goes to Paul Clinton. After Clinton was chosen, a theme was developed to coincide with Clinton’s achievements. This year’s theme is “Green Paths to Preservation.”
The theme reflects Clinton’s many contributions to the county. Guild treasurer Mary Broecker cited Clinton’s involvement with the Greenways Interurban Trail, a proposed 13-mile walking-bike trail stretching from La Grange to Pewee Valley, as one of his most outstanding accomplishments.
Broecker said Clinton was “the first person to really start bringing people together for Yew Dell Gardens.” Yew Dell Gardens is an important historical and cultural resource comprised of the former Crestwood farm of nationally recognized horticulturist, Theodore Klein. Through his expertise and research, Klein, now deceased, developed new versions of a variety of trees and plants, and his arboretum has gained national recognition. Clinton helped instigate the “Friends of Yew Dell” Committee in October 2000.

Jean-Marie Andrew

Photo by Don Ward

Jean-Marie Andrew

Always a visionary, Clinton found it important to preserve Klein’s gardens because he said, “Crestwood is growing fast. It needs parks and the location is great.”
Clinton’s success may rely in part to more than 19 years of running a small business and currently operating Beechwood Trees and Gardens Inc. In 1980, he graduated with a degree from the University of Kentucky in forestry and horticulture. Clinton’s past experience with nonprofit organizations has given him the impetus to move forward with such projects as Greenways.
Clinton will be honored with a noon luncheon on July 15 at the John W. Black Community Center in Buckner. Ticket prices are $10 to attend this luncheon, with reservations required.
Broecker said that one reason Project Guild created Oldham County Day was because the original members “felt Oldham County was so special, they wanted to celebrate.” Broecker, a 35-year member of the Guild, said this event has grown immeasurably since its conception. It has grown from a one-day event into a weeklong event and the number of vendor booths has increased from 18 to 200. But Broecker said the basic purpose remains the same: to celebrate the county and citizens like Clinton who have made outstanding contributions.
Crass said the day was also meant to be a source of income for local businesses. “We still meet those (original) goals,” she said.
The Project Guild remains in the background of many other community service projects. As a nonprofit organization, Project Guild uses proceeds from Oldham County Day to fund such endeavors in an effort to make Oldham County a better place in which to live.
In connection with Oldham County Day, one unique fundraising event the Guild pursues is the Cat’s Meow project. Cat’s Meow is a company based in Wooster, Ohio, that has created scale-model wooden collectibles, depicting historic landmarks in Oldham County.
The limited edition collectible for 2003 is a 2-inch carving of the Goshen General Store. The present building was built in 1874-1875 as Grange Hall and existed as a gathering place for farmers and traders. In the past, the building has housed a post office on the first floor and a town meeting hall on the second floor. It is representative of the overall feeling of Oldham County Day.
Photos are taken of the chosen historical landmark and submitted to the Cat’s Meow for the piece to be created, said Guild member Jean Marie Andrew. Cost for the Goshen General Store collectable is $15 and will premier on Oldham County Day. An accessory piece will be the Oldham County logo, which will sell for $10, said Andrew.
Suggestions are taken from the public on Oldham County Day at the Project Guild booth for the following year’s collectible. Andrew said the pieces are representative of landmarks across the county, not just one particular town or locale. Only 90 pieces are available each year, and only a true Cat’s Meow product contains the trademark cat silhouette somewhere on the piece.
All proceeds go toward charity, said Project Guild President Beverly McCombs. Last year’s sales benefited the Oldham County Special Olympics. McCombs said that all monetary earnings are given back to the community, and past recipients have included H.O.S.T. House, Oldham County Christian Academy, Greenways and the Oldham County History Center.
McCombs praised the organization as being one of the most smoothly run organizations in existence. “We all have our jobs and we just do them,” she said. The workload is evenly distributed so that no one person must accomplish all of the labor. “Members are always willing to lend a helping hand,” she said, so that Oldham County Day “just comes together.”
The Guild’s support network for one another is also a factor in the group’s longevity. “We’re like sisters,” McCombs said. All members possess wide-ranging gifts, which are used quite frequently, she said.
This dedicated and talented group is representative of women from all ages and careers within the county. Through their efforts, traditional events surrounding Oldham County Day have come to include a golf scramble, a Friday night “Dancin’ in the Streets” concert, a 5K race-walk, pancake breakfast, parade, children’s entertainment, food vendors and dozens of booths filled with arts and crafts. All of these aspects culminate into a day of celebration, reminiscent of times past when citizens of the county would travel to town for court days or gather at the market. A stroll around the streets surrounding the courthouse lawn on Oldham County Day will reveal the diverse and unique aspects of the county.

• For more information, contact Motyka at (502) 222-1517, McCombs at (502) 222-0040 or Broecker at (502) 222-1731.Oldham County Day.

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