By: Tom Fink | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: November 2018
The western reenactment group, the Tri-State Gunfighters & Reenactors, will be staging Old West showdowns as part of the live entertainment available at the upcoming Will’s Country Christmas.
The Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch in northeast Oklahoma will come alive with the Christmas spirit and holiday-themed fun and activities this year when the ranch hosts the annual Will’s Country Christmas celebration on Friday and Saturday, November 30 and December 1 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch, 9501 E. 380 Rd., Oologah, OK.
According to Will Rogers Memorial Museum Executive Director Tad Jones, Will’s Country Christmas is an annual celebration of the season “Will Rogers style,” with something to enjoy for every member of the family.
“A few years ago, we knew that Dry Gulch was going to be sold, and we didn’t know what that would mean for the Christmas Train,” Jones said. “So, we decided to do our own version and started Will’s Country Christmas at the (Will Rogers) Birthplace Ranch to give people something else to go to and enjoy in case the Christmas Train went away.”
Initially billed as a family-friendly outing to show the public how Christmas season was for young Will Rogers at his birthplace home in Oologah, the event grew larger each year, both in scope and attendance, Jones said.
“Our first few years were pretty slow, but last year, we had almost all we could handle with crowds – we had such a great turnout,” he said. “Will’s Country Christmas is something we do on a Friday and Saturday night for four hours, and the great thing about it is that almost everything is free. Admission is free, picture with Santa is free, and there’s something there for every member of the family.”
Will’s Country Christmas takes attendees back in time to the historic ranch, featuring storytelling, hay rides, camel and pony rides, crafts for the kids, carolers, music, vendors, food trucks, and even an appearance by a Wild West reenactor group.
“The Tri-State Gunfighters will be there – they’ll be putting on a Wild West showdown down in the bottoms, so we’ll have a couple of hay rides running the whole time to take people down there.
“We have a great sponsor – the Cherokee Nation -- who helps us with all the kid’s stuff,” Jones said. “We’ll have 19th century games that are free, and the hay rides will be free to kids 14 and under. The only price anyone has to pay is $5 for kids 15 and older for the hay ride.”
Jones said that, to his knowledge, there isn’t a Christmas celebration event in the region for the family with the uniqueness of Will’s Country Christmas.
“This is an even that’s not just something that draws people from around Oologah and Rogers County, people come here from all across northeastern Oklahoma, there’s nothing quite like it,” he said. “Look at all the people who used to go to Dry Gulch at Christmas, and now, they have an alternative Christmas outing with Will’s Country Christmas. We were lucky last year in that we had two perfect weather days, and we’re hoping that year is a repeat of that. We know it’s already a tradition for some families, and we hope that we can just continue to make it a great tradition for even more families, to keep growing it, to hopefully add new things for people to see and do, and the chance for the whole family to come out and make new Christmas memories.”
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