By: Amy Beth Dobbins | Category: Rogers County | Issue: October 2017
Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club intergenerational group paying tribute to Will Rogers at the 2016 Hats Off to Will event.
On a summer evening in 1899, a group of Cherokee youth gathered for two reasons: to hold the charter meeting of The Pocahontas Club and to dance the night away in a newly-raised barn in Rogers County. What started as a social club, however, has evolved into so much more over the past 100 plus years.
The Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club (IWPC) currently boasts approximately 200 Cherokee women, ranging from age 18 to 101. The intergenerational group hosts multiple events open to the public along with monthly membership meetings.
The purpose of each activity is clear: “…to promote and preserve our Cherokee history and culture and to focus on higher education for Cherokee students,” explains Ollie Starr, IWPC Event Coordinator. Annual events include, among others: the Old Fashioned Picnic each May at Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch in Oologah; an annual Tea and Wild Onion Feast as well as weekly art classes offered at the Boys and Girls Club of Chelsea.
One of the most notable events each year hosted by the IWPC, however, is the Hats Off to Will gala, paying tribute to the late Will Rogers as well as his family members. This year, Hats Off to Will kicks off on Saturday, November 4 at 4 p.m. at the Will Rogers Downs Event Center, three miles east of Claremore on Highway 20. A catered dinner and entertainment will follow at 5 p.m.
Featured entertainment includes something to delight young and old. For starters, Will Roberts, a Will Rogers impressionist will dazzle attendees with his quick humor and trick roping skills. Roberts has been a featured act of Cirque du Soleil and is a nationally syndicated radio host of the “Will Rogers Weekly Telegram”.
Also on tap for the evening is lively music by nationally-acclaimed and award-winning Cherokee fiddler, Regina Scott. To share her musical talents at age twelve with the crowd as well is the current Miss Junior Red Fern, Katelyn Meyers of Tahlequah. A live auction featuring all kinds of originals as well as a showcase of Cherokee artisans round out the evening.
Fun is not in short supply at this event, as everyone is encouraged to don a favorite hat in remembrance of Betty Rogers, Will’s late wife who had a flare for headwear. Participation pays at this gala, as the winner of the “Best Hat Contest” will walk away with a $100 giftcard!
Hats Off to Will serves as a crucial fundraiser for IWPC in order to accomplish its goal toward the future. Each year, the IWPC is able to award scholarships to Cherokee students in order that they may attend the college or career tech of their choice. Approximately ten $600 scholarships are awarded, annually, to deserving Cherokee seniors. The scholarship recipients commit to serving their community in exchange. Since beginning the scholarship endowment three years ago, the IWPC has awarded $18,000. “We have seen, first-hand, the difference in students’ lives these monies make,” states Susan Gilliland, IWPC Treasurer.
Relive the past, and inspire the future at Hats Off to Will.
Hats Off to Will serves as a crucial fundraiser for IWPC in order to accomplish its goal toward the future.
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