One of the nation’s greatest family friendly festivals returns to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, May 26 and 27. The 28th Annual Chuck Wagon Gathering & Children’s Cowboy Festival offers food, fun and entertainment in “The Cowboy Way!”
The festival offers Chuck Wagon food samples, live musical entertainment from Rodeo Opry, family-friendly activities and exploring the Museum itself – both its indoor galleries and outdoor gardens. Children of all ages can enjoy activities such as a petting zoo, artisan demonstrations, Western reenactors, leather stamping, archery, face painting, craft stations, square dancing, photos with a longhorn and more.
“The chuck wagon was America’s first food truck and remains an iconic symbol of the American West,” said President and CEO Natalie Shirley. “The other family-friendly activities connect people with the West of the past, but also very much the West of today. We are all members of this vast region, and it continues to exemplify so much of our nation’s character.”
The festival food is fantastic and includes such delicious fare as stew and potato’s, biscuits, beans and cobblers for visitors to sample. The chuck wagons are invited to participate based upon the authenticity of their wagons and camps and ability to prepare food for thousands of guests over two days. The 2018 wagons from Oklahoma include Big Pasture Ranch from El Reno, Cross Timbers Ranch Wagon from Mustang and Little Dixie, Choctaw. Texas wagons include the Cross Wagon from Vega and the Honey-Do Spoiler Wagon from Pampa. Rounding out the chuck wagons is the Rafter J Bar B Wagon from Cambridge, Kansas.
Children can participate in numerous activities: rope making, bandana designing, leather stamping and crafts, to name a few. In 2018 there is an Instrument Playground presented by the OKC Philharmonic and OKC Orchestra League. The Ag in the Classroom program offers butter making and Saturday only includes storytelling by Hank the Cowdog author, John R Erickson. Inside the museum, watch square dancing by members of the Central District Square Dance Association.
For the third year the museum will offer a unique opportunity for Last Frontier Council, Boy Scouts to contribute in a unique way. Scouts will participate in an overnight camp experience on museum grounds and provide volunteer assistance through scheduled service shifts to support the many activity stations throughout the festival. “We are very excited to have the Boy Scouts participate. It’s a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills through service learning and build recognition and awareness for both the museum and the Scouts,” said Director of Education Gretchen Jeane.
Festival hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the Museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission covers entrance to the festival, food samples and the Museum. Hot dogs and beverages are available for purchase. Activities are concentrated outdoors in the gardens, but a few take place indoors in the air-conditioned comfort of the museum. The acclaimed boutique that is The Museum Store offers souvenir t-shirts, old-fashioned toys, cookbooks, art, jewelry, western apparel and a candy counter.
Admission is $15 and free for members and children 12 and under; $10 per person for families of Last Frontier Council Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts (wear your uniform!). Family memberships start at $65 for a limited time only, which, for many families, is less expensive than purchasing festival tickets. Memberships are available for purchase at the event. All crafts and activities are free with admission, except food from The Museum Grill and souvenirs from The Museum Store.
The Dogwood Foundation returns as the presenting sponsor for the event. Additional support is provided by Shawnee Mills, Bimbo Bakeries, Rodeo Opry and Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
The list of awards for the festival is distinguished. It has been recognized by American Cowboy magazine as a Top 3 pick for Best Family Event and by the American Bus Association as a Top 100 Event in North America, to name a few. The best endorsement is that the festival is again expected to attract thousands of visitors who will partake in memory-making activities spread across the museum complex.
Nationally accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is located only six miles northeast of downtown Oklahoma City in the Adventure District at the junction of Interstates 44 and 35, the state’s exciting Adventure Road corridor. For more information call (405)478-2250 or visit www.nationalcowboymuseum.org.
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