On the trail with Footprints in the Dew…

It will be a busy weekend starting on Friday when I’m spending the day with OU great Joe Washington. His visit to Bartlesville was rescheduled due to health problems and now he will be at Arvest’s Friday Forum from 9:30-11:30 at the eastside branch.

After lunch he will be signing books at Jude’s from 1:30-3:30 PM and then he will make a quick stop at the Vera Café.

Joe is a darned nice guy and someone everyone should meet. I’ll be riding shotgun with him all day so I hope to see you there.

Another Great Weekend at the Western Heritage Awards

One of my favorite events of the year……

Welcome back.  “Sorry sold out” was the response you got if you waited too long for tickets to this year’s Western Heritage Awards ceremony this past Saturday night at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City so if you missed it let me tell you it was special.

It all started Thursday afternoon with the preview of a Navajo rug auction. It was very successful and during a series of talks and demonstrations I learned that these are the real deal, hand made using original Navajo techniques. Of course the rugs were very beautiful and also very expensive.

The area around the auction was a great place to people watch and from my contacts I already knew that several celebrities were in town who planned on attending the auction. Michael Martin Murphy, actor Barry Corbin, singer, writer and cowboy poet Red Stegall, TV star Buck Taylor and singer Wynona Judd just to name a few would come by to check out the rugs. I could go on and on as it seemed everyone there had a camera and wanted their picture with one or more of the stars. Friends at this event all the celebrities gladly visit with the guests and pose for photos. It was the same thing on Friday afternoon when a reception was held leading up to the big ceremony on Saturday night.

The stars, director, writers and producers of television’s Hell on Wheels were there and on Saturday morning they all took part in a question and answer period at the museum which drew another big crowd. There were activities throughout the day on Saturday and it wasn’t unusual to spot someone famous looking at artwork or chatting with a fan. At 5:30 on Saturday night the big black tie awards ceremony kicked off with a welcome from the Museum’s President and CEO Steven Karr followed by remarks from the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Lynnette Friess. When I asked the folks at my table about Mrs. Friess I learned that she is the first woman to chair the Board in the 65 year history of the Museum. Later after a quick visit with her and with a little research, I discovered that she is the wife of business leader Foster Friess and that the two of them are major philanthropists who give to worthy causes around the world. In addition Lynette is the author of several children’s books and donates the proceeds to the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming.

After her welcoming talk there a tribute to Audrey McClendon and a few words from cowboy poet Baxter Black before Anson Mount from Hell on Wheels took over as the Master of Ceremonies. I don’t have room to go through all of the honorees but a couple of names you may recognize are Lee Marvin and Tommie Lee Jones.  You regular readers may also remember that Bartlesville’s own John Hughes was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners last year and with the passing of rancher John F. Kane just before that event,  I hope that this is an honor that John may also receive in the future. It is a three year review process and I’ll keep you up to date if I hear anything.

All in all it was a great weekend and as always the food was very good.  Plan on it next year, admission is reasonable so if you get the chance to attend you should and I for sure will see you there.

Next week I’m taking you to an original Credence Clearwater Revival Concert in north central Oklahoma at a place where I’ve never been before. This should be good and till then I’ll see ya down the road…..

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Independence, Kansas, One of America’s Great Small Towns

Welcome back. This week my travels have been mostly local including a quick drive to Ponca City which is home to several really good museums. During a trip to Tulsa I also had the opportunity to visit Vera, a small community along the way with one of the best cafes around for breakfast and lunch. The café doubles as the town grocery store and it is an interesting place that is well worth a stop.

On this trip I also stopped at the Mid-America Feed Store in Talala, OK which is much more than a feed store and is a great place to shop for the cowboy or cowgirl in your life.

Next my travels took me to Independence, KS. Saturday was a big day in this town of 9,500 starting in the morning at the Ralph Mitchell Zoo which was opening for the summer season. This city owned zoo has always amazed me and it is a regular stop whenever I am in the area. Located in Riverside Park where there is also a big waterpark, it’s a drive through place that takes you past tree shaded picnic tables, statues and fountains.

The zoo was founded in 1925 and today it is home to all types of animals, from monkeys to bison. New this year are three Siberian bears which are a larger species of brown bear. These bears are sisters and they come from a zoo in South Carolina. In addition to a tour of the zoo, a visit to this 100+ acre park also offers miniature golf, a kiddie park and lots of good food close by. I’d say it just about has everything for a great daytrip.

Well you’d think after the big opening at the Zoo on Saturday what else could this little community offer but friends that night at Memorial Hall Roy Clark, Jana Jae, Jim Halsey and many other big names in music were in town for the annual induction ceremony of the National Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame. It was close to a sellout crowd when Roy Clark sang “Yesterday When I was Young” and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Jim Halsey. Jim Hall Blair sang “Okie from Muskogee” in memory of Merle Haggard and from The Voice TV show, Alaska and Madi sang “Walking after Midnight.” Throw in an award for Clarence “Gate Mouth” Brown and I’d say even old Harry Sinclair, who made his fortune here back in the early 1900s, would be quite amazed by this small Kansas town he once called home.

From one enjoyable weekend it’s on to another coming up in Oklahoma City where it’s time for the Western Heritage Awards on April 15th and 16th. I understand it’s not too late to get tickets to hang out with this year’s stars. Friday night starts things off with a meet and greet in the hallways of the museum which are lined with food and drink. This is the best night to visit with the celebrities and get your picture taken with them. Then on Saturday morning there will a question and answer period with all the film and movie people. Saturday night is the black tie dinner and awards show which is usually sold out. This year Tommie Lee Jones is one of the honorees and Wynona Judd is a presenter so I expect the place will be packed. Check out the website for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for all the scoop.

Thanks for reading and till next time, I’ll see ya down the road……………

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G.R. Carter, Hall of Fame Jockey from Pawhuska

A great story about a local kid who makes good……………………

Welcome back. From Bartlesville it’s just forty-five minutes to Tulsa and then another two hours to Oklahoma City and this has become a regular drive for me lately. It’s a four lane highway all the way but I’ve often thought about getting off and following old Route 66 or as my friend Michael Wallis calls it, the “Mother Road.”  Unfortunately, it seems time is always against me and I haven’t had the opportunity to take the scenic route yet.

I am frequently asked where I stay in Oklahoma City and usually I park my motorhome at Arcadia Lake near Edmond. Camping sites are very reasonably priced and most of them have a view of the lake so you can’t beat it. During my stay this past week, for convenience sake I stayed at the horse racing track Remington Park which is close to the Western Heritage Center and Cowboy Hall of Fame. I’ve stayed here before and although it’s just a concrete slab with no facilities, parking is free. Best of all, the parking is right alongside the track which means you can watch the races from the convenience of your vehicle.  The clubhouse for the track is also within easy walking distance if you want to eat or play the horses as they say.

This time of year is the start of racing season which at this track means quarter horse racing. I’d say over half the people in attendance were there to gamble at the casino which is part of the complex but there was a lively crowd watching the horses run as well. While I was there a story caught my interest when I heard about a man from Pawhuska who was about to retire after thirty years as a jockey. After I did some research friends I can tell you this guy isn’t just any jockey.

As a youth in Pawhuska, George Robert Carter, Jr. excelled in sports, winning the state championships in both gymnastics and wrestling.  After graduation, he moved to Sallisaw, OK where Blue Ribbon Downs is located to become a full time jockey. Through the years, he moved around the country riding and raising horses, winning races all along the way and breaking records for money earned. “G.R.” as he is known, rode both quarter horses and American paint horses and has been named World Champion jockey ten times. At forty-eight G.R. holds the record for all time wins and money earned. His awards could fill a semi, including recognition from then Governor Brad Henry who declared May 31, 2009 as G.R. Carter day in Oklahoma. You folks who have seen him race may recall his back flip dismount off the horse which was his trademark after winning. There may never be another jockey like G.R. Carter and he is right from our neck of the woods.

After a book signing event in Edmond on Saturday featuring OU great Joe Washington at Best of Books, it was on to the Tulsa Fairgrounds where six miles of guns were for sale.  This is the world’s largest gun show, run by Joe Wannamaker. The booths were sold out and there was a capacity crowd on hand for the show. Joe told me there were over four thousand sales tables at the event this year and it all started in Tulsa in 1965.  At the time there were just a few tables and now the show has grown to include buyers and sellers from around the world. Joe’s next show is November 12th and 13th and with Christmas around the corner then it would be worth a visit.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..