Members of the Old Town Association hope to lasso an even bigger crowd for their annual celebration in North Town this year, using a western theme and renaming it the Wild West Festival.
The Wild West Festival is s set for 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Oct. 13 in the historic Old Town District in North Town.
“This is going to be our biggest festival yet,” said Twilia Gray, a member of the Old Town Association, which is putting on the event.
This year’s Wild West Festival will mark the 16th year the Old Town Association has held a festival in North Town.
“We’ve added a lot of events this year,” said Eddie Gray, president of the Old Town Association.
While the traditional gunfight reenactments will return, a number of activities have been added.
They include the Choctaw Nation Tribal Dancers, a lumberjack competition and “chuck wagon food.”
Something new this year — John Wayne impersonator, Dr. Gene Howard.
Howard, who’s from Texas, has made a number of personal appearances while impersonating the legendary actor and film icon.
Jeff Cogburn, who Gray said is the great grandson of Rooster Cogburn, will be present for a book-signing. (Despite those who think of Rooster Cogburn as a fictional character from the novel and film “True Grit,” Gray maintained there really was a Rooster Cogburn. After all, J.J. McAlester, the real-life founder of McAlester, is a character in both the original Charles Portis novel and in the John Wayne 1969 film version of “True Grit.”)
Two chainsaw artists are expected, including Clayton Cross, who’s expected to use his chainsaw on a tree to depict a likeness of the city’s founder, J.J. McAlester.
Musical performers include a bluegrass band and the Crowder School Band directed by John Wilcox.
Although the festivities are set to begin around 9 a.m., the festival king and queen are expected to be crowned on the main stage at “High noon,” Gray said. Ward 5 City Councilor Buddy Garvin will serve as master of ceremonies for the event.
At least five inflatables are expected for children.
Other activities include a Wild Color 5 K run, with McAlester firefighters set up at stations along the route ready to douse the runners’ shirts with dye as they pass by.
“Wear a white T-shirt,” Eddie Gray advised.
The registration fee is $40 and Gray said the first 200 entrants will get a free T-shirt.
The Old Town Association is getting an assist from Pride in McAlester and MPower Economic Development for this year’s festival.
A number of vendors have already signed on for the event, including many involving non-profit organizations from the McAlester area, who can qualify for a free booth, according to Gray.
“We’re still accepting vendors,” Gray added. He said anyone needing more information can contact him at 918 423-8620.
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