Get your taste buds ready for an evening of food and wine and a little pre-Halloween spook by going along on a ghost tour -- one of the final events celebrating Oakhurst's 100th birthday. The gala will be held from 6-9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21 at Sierra Sky Ranch, 50552 Sky Ranch Road in Oakhurst.
"We encourage everyone to come or else you'll have to wait a 100 years for the next one!" joked Ray Edmondson, marketing director for Sierra Historic Sites Association, which is helping with the event.
Ted Roache, owner/manager of Sierra Sky Ranch, says he hopes the community will come out to support the event, which will benefit Fresno Flats. There will be a barbecue tri-tip/chicken dinner catered by Sierra Sky Ranch restaurant, a chili cook-off competition for attendees to judge, wine tasting by San Joaquin Wine Company/Moody Press and Solitary Cellars, From My Garden's lavender chocolates, Two Monkey beer tasting, live music by Good Medicine, a hot wing eating contest, and a silent auction with 30 to 40 items.
"I would also like to give a nice pat on the back to the merchants who stepped up once again to help with the silent auction items," Edmondson said.
Last but not least, ghost tours will be held throughout the evening. The ghost tour will be lead by Sierra Sky Ranch staff, who deal with the ghosts inhabiting the restaurant/hotel on a regular basis. Phyllis Holtermann, an employee for 61/2 years, says she has no paranormal abilities, yet she herself has a number of stories. Just last week, she watched one of the closet door's open about 12 inches, then shut all by itself, not once but twice.
According to Holtermann, even the in residence cat can see the ghosts. She says the cat will start meowing, looking at a corner of the ceiling, his eyes going back and forth like he's following something. When she tries to get his attention, he won't even look at her. So Holtermann will turn around and ask the ghosts to leave so the cat will stop working and she can get some work done, and soon the cat settles back down.
According to Holtermann, there are countless stories and many ghosts -- ghosts that even have names. One ghost is named Sarah. She was the head nurse when the building was a hospital in the 1930s. It's said that she still lives in her old room.
There are also two children from that same era. One is named Sally, a 9-year-old, and her brother who was close in age. Holtermann says they create havoc by running up and down the halls, laughing and giggling. Guests have reported hearing it when there are no children in house. Just last week, a housekeeper when out of nowhere, she felt something hit the top of her head and a marble fell down, landing on the floor -- according to Holtermann, there are no marbles at Sky Ranch.
"The kids are messing with you," Holtermann said to the house cleaner.
Other ghosts include ranch hands -- Jeff, Albert Dietz, and Elmer -- from the 1800s when the area was Batterson Ranch. Elmer died on the property after learning that the ranch would be lost to the state. All 200 employees felt it was their home and family, so Elmer was very upset and not paying close attention when he went out to chop wood. He accidentally hit his leg with the axe and died there.
According to reports, there are also the ghosts of two chefs in the kitchen that don't like each other.
"We don't know when they were here or what time period they're from, but they do create a ruckus and our chefs will look over and tell them to stop," Holtermann said.
The hotel also gets complaints of footsteps overhead, yet there isn't a second story. People working overnight shifts hear people talking and walking up and down stairs that lead to a loft, yet no one's there. Fortunately, no one seems to be scared of the ghosts.
"They're (ghosts) all very nice or believe me, I wouldn't be here," Holtermann said, laughing.
Admission costs $30 per person and tickets are available at the door. Edmondson said the event originated with the 100-year committee and is not necessarily a Fresno Flats event, although proceeds will go to the historic village and park after costs are covered for the dinner supplied by Sierra Sky Ranch. The non-profit hopes to use the proceeds to purchase a new roof for the Taylor Log Cabin and to add insulation to park buildings to help cut down on high utility bills, the Edmondson said.
"Come and have a good time," said Sandy Edmondson, Sierra Historic Sites Association president. "I know the last one was so wonderful and we had so much fun."
Sunday's event is the last big centennial celebration for Oakhurst until the burying of a town time capsule in December, Edmondson said.
Details: (559) 683-8040.