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…..