Welcome back. The year was 1800 and what later became known as Washington County was occupied by several Indian tribes. Unbeknownst to these people the land they lived on was claimed by Napoleon Bonaparte of France. Yes, in the early years of the land we now know as Bartlesville and Dewey, England, France and Spain at one time all laid claim to. If not for a few turns in history, we all could have been speaking French and the upcoming Western Heritage Days festival coming up next weekend could easily have been very different. Instead of Saturday’s Tom Mix Day when longhorn cattle roam the streets along with re-enactors and live bands play western music while the crowds eat cowboy food, the French version would have changed many things. The Dewy Hotel might have been the Georges IV and Don Tyler Boulevard the Champs Elysees. Instead of Tom Mix it could have been Maurice Chevalier and we would all be eating crepes.
The Wild West Show held at my friends Ken and Marilyn Tate’s fabulous Prairie Song Village might be known as Chanson de la Prairie Or perhaps we wouldn’t even have a Wild West Show with rodeo acts that will be thrilling the crowd on Sunday if France had won our territory.
Luckily for us we speak English and in 1899 Jacob Bartles moved across the Caney River and established the town of Dewey. We are also fortunate to have the many volunteers who put on events like the Western Heritage weekend. Larry Kerns, Cindy Bray, Fawn Lassiter, John Dickson, Nolan Jones and dozens of others have worked hard to brining you this year’s great show. If you haven’t been to Dewey’s main street lately you need to check it out, there are plenty of shops and a visit will be well worth your time. The history of Dewey and the old west will be on display starting Saturday morning with a pancake feed at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Train rides, a parade, re-enactors, food vendors, arts & crafts and a 10AM film showing of Footprints in the Dew: The Last Ten Tapes at the Heritage Theater will all be part of the first day’s events.
This film my friends is a documentary based on my bestselling book Footprints in the Dew and if you’ve read the book all the characters are in the film. From Sheriff George Wayman to Chub Anderson they will be telling you the story of the most famous unsolved murder in Oklahoma history in their own words. Seating is limited and with all the folks in town for the Dewey all class reunion this same weekend, early arrival is recommended.
The Heritage Theater also has a bar and restaurant and it has become a social gathering place in Dewey. It is so popular that the owner just bought the corner building next to the theater and is expanding. I’ve also heard that a micro-brewery is moving to town as well. Yes, Dewey, Oklahoma will be a great place to be on September 23rd and 24th.
Two days later on Tuesday the 26th I’ll be at another historical place. On April 18, 1929, local mining magnate George L. Coleman opened the magnificent Coleman Theatre in Miami, Oklahoma and this place will take your breath away. For tickets and information call the Coleman at (918) 540-2425.
Till next time, au revoir and I’ll see ya down the road……