By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum will host its 25th annual Chuck Wagon Gathering & Children’s Cowboy Festival, May 23-24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1700 NW 63rd in Oklahoma City.
This award- winning festival has become a Memorial Day weekend tradition for thousands of families.
“While this is the 25th year of the festival, it’s also the Museum’s 50th anniversary, so we have a lot to celebrate,” said Museum President Steven Karr. “To mark the occasion, we’ve got a strong lineup of entertainers and hands-on activities that will feature a mix of fan favorites along with several newcomers.”
The festival offers food, entertainment, family-friendly activities and includes admission to the Museum’s galleries and exhibitions, outdoor gardens and festival grounds.
The Dogwood Foundation returns as Presenting Sponsor for the two-day event. Children can enjoy numerous outdoor activities, including pony rides, bandana decorating, butter making and much more. Stagecoach and covered wagon rides around the festival grounds are a family favorite.
Oklahoma’s own Marna Davis and her husband, Doug, will provide historical re-enactments as sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her husband, Frank Butler.
Other notable activities include readings on Saturday by John Erickson, award-winning author of the popular Hank the Cowdog book series.
Western musical entertainment with multi-talented Don Edwards will be held on stage Saturday. Edwards’ career as balladeer, guitarist and composer has spanned more than three decades.
Cowboy singer Jim Garling, fiddler Wayne Cantwell, the A-Bar Bunkhouse Band, Mountain Smoke, and Red Steagall, a 2003 inductee into the Museum’s prestigious Hall of Great Westerners, will also perform.
“This will be my 9th year at the festival,” Garling said. “Of course, for me the best part is passing on the ole cowboy music, and keeping it alive. Songs of the cattle drives to the (wish I was a cowboy) tunes.”
During his performance, Garling discusses the Old West and the heyday of the cowboy as he celebrates western traditional classics with renditions of old favorites.
“The weekend is filled with many opportunities for Kids and Adults to interact with the old west,” Garling added. “There will be pony rides, rope making, horse and wagon rides, wondering fiddlers, old west trick shooters and magic shows. This is truly a family old west event.
Garling said, “”It’s always fun to see the big smiles on the faces of children and seniors alike as I tell about the ‘cowboy life.’”
Authentic chuck wagon food samples will be served daily by nine chuck wagon crews from Texas and Oklahoma. The crews will provide stew, brisket, sourdough biscuits, beans, cobblers and much more.
When it is time to cool off, families can head up the hill to the Museum’s indoor Children’s Cowboy Corral. It offers hands-on Activities include mounting real saddles, dressing up in cowboy gear and pretending to cook at a chuck wagon camp.
Admission is $15 per person and includes festival activities, tasting bowls and Museum admission. Children ages 12 and younger as well as Museum members are admitted free.
The National Cowboy Museum is supported through memberships and private and corporate donations.
This year’s festival is underwritten by the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Oklahoman and Museum Partners, Devon Energy Corporation, Chesapeake Energy Corporation and the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation.
More than 10 million visitors from around the world have visited the museum and gained a better understanding of the western history that is such a part of our national culture.
Nationally accredited, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is located in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District at the junction of Interstates 44 and 35. The Museum offers annual memberships beginning at just $40.
For more information, visit www.nationalcowboymuseum.org.