Say Howdy, Hoboken!
Historical museum gears up for a hoedown
by Amanda Palasciano
Reporter staff writer
Mar 31, 2013 | 5386 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
YEE HAW – A cowboy decorating contest is one of the many fun reasons to check out the Hoboken Historical Museum’s hoedown event in April.
YEE HAW – A cowboy decorating contest is one of the many fun reasons to check out the Hoboken Historical Museum’s hoedown event in April.

The Hoboken Historical Museum is set to bring the Wild, Wild West to Hoboken on Saturday, April 13 with the “Hoboken Hoedown.” The museum was geared up to bring the event to this part of town last fall, but put their boots aside after Hurricane Sandy. Now that the dust has settled, the annual “fall” gala has moved to spring.

The hoedown will take place at the Elks Lodge, 1005 Washington St., beginning at 7 p.m. Features of the event include an open saloon featuring margaritas and Texas tornados, a live auction, a pie baking contest, a cowboy cut-out competition, square and line dancing, and buffet-style southwestern fare.

“Our annual gala in 2011 was held at the W Hotel and turned out to be a real blast,” said Melissa Abernathy, museum public relations manager. “We are hoping that people really get in the theme this year, whether they go cowboy or outlaw.”

The annual gala is the biggest source of fundraising for the museum, and the lack of a 2012 gala and auction due to Sandy put a damper on the museum’s budget. The annual auction was moved last year to piggy-back on the gala and consequently neither happened. The funds directly support the many programs the museum puts on to uphold the rich tradition and history of Hoboken.

“Knock on wood, we didn’t have Sandy-related damage but not having our auction in 2012 did hurt,” said Abernathy. “We are lucky to have a lot of funding; we have competitive state grant funding, individual donations, local business support…But our biggest fundraiser has been the gala and auction. And it’s not just about the fundraising, but also the community building.”

Abernathy said that ticket holders for the original hoedown date were asked if they wanted to honor their tickets for the rescheduled spring date, or put it towards a donation.

“The response was about half and half,” said Abernathy. “Right now we are about halfway to capacity as well, which is about 250.”

Saddle up, pardner

The museum’s special event committee chose a hoedown last year and the response was positive.

“It’s like holding a prom, with a lot more work,” compared Abernathy.

Thought the event will feature mostly “non” country music, there will be a spotlight square dance. The DJ will explain to guests how to line dance as well. A pie baking contest is open to guests who bake two pies of the same variety, one for judging and one for consumption. Winners will receive gifts from Battaglia’s Home and Copper Kettles.

Six-foot-tall cowboy cutouts have been “adopted” around town by businesses who wish to participate in a best-dressed cowboy contest.

“We just had so many creative people on the committee we thought why not have a creative contest?” Abernathy said. The winner of the competition will win a free ticket to the hoedown.
“We are hoping that people really get in the theme this year, whether they go cowboy or outlaw.” – Melissa Abernathy
The live auction will offer bidding on items like a year of indoor parking and a Shipyard Pool membership. Trips are also being auctioned this year: a week in San Miguel, Mexico, a two-week stay in Pompano Beach, Fla., a weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y. with a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and more.

The event will be catered by Anthony David’s and desserts will be provided by Giorgio’s.

Not just archiving

The Hoboken Historical Museum began as a group of history enthusiasts about 27 years ago.

“It started out as a group without a home in 1986,” said Abernathy. “They persuaded City Hall to get some display cases [inside].”

Eventually, word caught on of what the preservation-passionate folks were doing down at City Hall. So around 1999, when developer Joseph Barry looked to buy the Bethlehem Steel Company Shipyard at 1301 Hudson St., he opted to preserve the machine shop building. According to Abernathy, a different developer prior to Barry and Applied Companies had planned to tear down the ship building and repair site.

Barry devoted some space to the museum site at a 100-year lease for $1 per year. The group then had to raise the funding for plumbing and other renovations, about $250,000, and so birthed the fundraising for the historical museum.

When asked if the changing times and development are impacting the historical preservation, Abernathy said, “If you look at the history of Hoboken, that is the history of Hoboken. It has always been a place of newcomers, starting with being a point of immigration. It’s not a hundred percent transient, there are multi-generational families but this has always been a place where people are getting a foothold.”

Y’all are welcome

Tickets are $125 and are currently being sold on the museum website ( as well as other locations around town like Amanda’s Restaurant, 908 Washington St., Sparrow’s Wine and Liquors, 1224 Shipyard Lane, Swift Morris Interiors, 1208 Washington St., Coldwell Banker Real Estate, 100 Washington St., and Giannone Wine & Liquor in West New York.

The museum thanks the following Hoedown sponsors: Hufnagel Landscaping, W Hotels, Stevens Institute, Hoboken University Medical Center, Palisades Medical Center, and the Schmalzbauer family as well as supporters of the event like Amanda’s and Elysian Café, Coldwell Banker/Jill Biggs Group, Anthony Vandermark, AD Catering & Events, Giannone Wine & Liquor, Giorgio’s, Hudson County Pigeon Club, Shiner Bock, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and the Mason Family Civic League.

Amanda Palasciano may be reached at

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