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Crowing home

A woman's lifetime of memories in Southern Oregon was celebrated Saturday in the annual Rogue River Rooster Crow. And she also got to celebrate a milestone in preserving some of those memories.

Riding in a 1929 Ford Model A convertible and wearing her red hat, Alice Hatch, a 1946 graduate of Rogue River High School and longtime resident, served as grand marshal for the festival's parade, leading the 58 parade entries along East Main Street in the 63rd annual event.

The honor for Hatch was also a celebration for the community's Woodville Museum, which at the end of the month will own the title to its historic building.

The parade entries were an eclectic bunch, ranging from Oath Keepers who handed out pocket Constitutions to proponents for the State of Jefferson and the Rogue Valley Ole Volks & Folks, who waved from their air-cooled Volkswagens. Behind them came a local exterminator who joked he was "chasing bugs."

Hatch was there for the first Rooster Crow in 1953, started by Shade Combs. As music played on the Woodville Museum lawn near First and Oak, Hatch pointed to where the first Rooster Crow occurred, a former field where an Umpqua Bank branch now stands. She pointed out her late husband, Dale Hatch, in a 1958 photo taken at the event. Alice said she missed the photo moment, instead watching after her two children, who were ages 4 and 6 that day. 

"I was probably chasing kids at that time," Hatch said.

Hatch remembers there being much excitement at the first Rooster Crow.

"There were a lot of people," Hatch said.

She said some years are better attended than others, largely depending on the number of class reunions being held during the festival. Hatch listed several reunions in town this year, including the class of 1966, which had an entry in the parade. Hatch said the Rooster Crow is a "time to come back" for many who grew up in Rogue River and have memories of the festival.

"They (reunions) bring a lot of kids home," Hatch said.

Hatch has two daughters, two sons-in-law, five grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. All but one flew in from across the country — Arizona, Southern California and North Carolina — for the celebration. The honor allowed Hatch the chance to reconnect with other former residents she hadn't heard from in years.

A different longtime resident is selected to be grand marshal each year. Her husband, Dale, had the honor in 2000. Hatch remembered knowing Dale had been selected before he did, and the look of surprise when he got the news.

"It was a complete surprise to him," Hatch said. Her husband passed away in 2002 after 55 years of marriage.

Hatch is active on the Woodville Museum board and the Red Hat Society, among other causes. 

"I never learned to say no, so I'm involved in a lot of things in Rogue River," Hatch said.

Among those things is the Woodville Museum. The museum's white house at 199 First St. was built at the turn of the 20th century by Dale's grandparents, blacksmith Charles Hatch and his wife, Elizabeth. After Elizabeth passed on in the 1960s, the house was sold to the school district, where it was used for, among other things, band practice.

The nonprofit Woodville Museum took out a mortgage in 1986 on the house, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places and displays historically significant photographs, artifacts and resources. On the premises is a replica blacksmith's shop, replica stagecoach and a reconstruction of the original jail building made from the original bricks.

Hatch remembers Dale's grandmother in her rocking chair sewing on the front porch of the house, and picnics in the back yard. Volunteer Roland Prefontaine remembers playing baseball as a kid and the trouble they'd be in when their ball would land in the yard. He remembered a girl who'd play ball with them had a knack for consistently hitting it over the fence.

"That was a no-no," Prefontaine said.

Although the museum is among other history museums included in a levy proposed for the November ballot, currently it doesn't get any government funding. The museum also could use some help from younger local residents. The youngest of the 12 members on the current museum board are in their late-70s and some are in their 90s.

"We do need volunteers," Hatch said. The museum can be reached at 541-582-3088.

The Rooster Crow continues Sunday with a car show downtown from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., children's activities, food and arts and crafts vendors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Depot Street, and a Church in the Park event with live music from Abide at 11 a.m. at the corner of First and Pine Streets.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Jenny Thomas rides a giant rooster on the Le Fleur Bouquet entry during the annual Rooster Crow parade Saturday in Rogue River. For more photos from the Rooster Crow, see mailtribune.com/photos. Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta
Parade Grand Marshal Alice Hatch has attended all 63 Rooster Crow Festivals and was joined this year by her great-grandchildren, from left, Andrew Herrman, 7, Dalia Mathews, 6, and Hayden Brakpool, 7, who wore 'Alice The Great' shirts in her honor. Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta