Christmas, more than any other time of the year, is a season for homecomings and a time for family traditions.
As the Yuletide season approaches, so do holiday traditions and the opportunity for generations young and old to make memories.
A seasonal tradition and Rogers County favorite will be returning to Oologah again this year, with the chance to experience the Christmas season as it was during the time of Will Rogers at the Will’s Country Christmas celebration.
“This will be our seventh year to host this event, and it’s one that’s really grown in attendance over the last couple of years,’’ said Tad Jones, Will Rogers Memorial Museums executive director. “Even last year, when many usual Christmas events and activities were canceled (due to the pandemic), we held ours and had record crowds. It really turned out well for us, and everyone who came truly enjoyed themselves, so we wanted to bring that back again, as it’s becoming something of a tradition for many families.”
Named in honor of famed Oklahoma actor/author/broadcaster Will Rogers, Will’s Country Christmas is a seasonal celebration as it might have been held during the heyday of Will himself, giving friends, couples, and families in attendance the chance to peek into yesteryear, and what Christmas might have been like during the simpler times of the late 19th century.
Many of last year’s favorites will be returning again this year, Jones said.
“Some of the returning favorites this year will include a shooting gallery, a Wild West hay ride, storytelling, kids crafts and 19th century games, carriage rides, a Christmas-themed Wild West shootout, music, pictures with Santa at the Birthplace, which, like admission, will be free and more,” he said.
“We want to emphasize that this is very much a ‘family friendly’ event, so parents of very young children have nothing to worry about, as far as appropriateness goes, especially with regards to the ‘shootout’,” he said. “When we came up with the idea for Will’s Country Christmas, it was when we’d heard that Dry Gulch was going to be going away, and we wanted to have something, albeit on a smaller scale that parents could bring their children to for the Christmas season that was along the lines of the Christmas Train at Dry Gulch, so it’s very much centered around kids
Speaking of which, Jones said a Christmas train has recently been added to the festivities, and vendors and food trucks to be on-site to satisfy those who bring their hunger, or those who want to get some early Christmas shopping done during their visit.
Vendors scheduled to be on hand include Scensty, Paparazzi Jewelry, The Western Pearl LLC, The Dusty Duck Route 66 Mercantile, Wild Oaks Décor, Shawna’s Kiss and Makeup, Melinda’s Tupperware, Kari’s Color Street Nails, Mended with Nature, Remedy Health, Usborne Books, Anderson Lighting, The Happy Llama, Rustic Euphorium and Christmas Photo Booth, with more expected.
Food trucks planning to be present include Linam up Grill, The Rockin Little Dog House, The Pink Flamingo and Curnside Comfort.
Even as national and world events continue to unfold and areas of uncertainty arise, with the approach of Christmas, Jones said he felt it was more important than ever to maintain the traditions of Christmas.
“This (event) is something that’s very much in the spirit of Will (Rogers),” Jones said. “You know, Will tried to bring normality during difficult times, and we want to do the same – have something that people can count on, rely on, and experience something which brings people together in unity. I’m thankful that we’ll be able to do that again this year.”
Attendees are encouraged to observe safety protocols as they feel comfortable, but masks are not required at this event.
Jones said that previous years attendance has grown with each year – into the thousands – a trend he hopes to replicate again this year.
“As always, the weather can make all the difference as far as attendance goes – we’ve had good weather in the past, and we’re hoping for the same again this year,” he said. “When we came up with the idea for Will’s Country Christmas, we wanted something to which families could come, take their time, roam, shop, relax, do crafts, and have multiple things for the family to do together to get into or feel the Christmas spirit. Now, after a number of years, this (event) has grown larger and larger, and we have people who’ve come from all over the state to experience it. We hope that will continue, and that we’ll have great weather for this event.”
Will’s Country Christmas will be held Friday, Dec. 3, and Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch in Oologah., 9501 E. 380 Road. Festivities will be held from 5-9 p.m. each evening.
Admission free, Hayride $5.
For more information, contact the Will Rogers Memorial Museum at 918-341-0179 or online at www.willrogers.com
See more about ‘Tis the Season for Will’s Country Christmas: