Woolaroc has benefited from Pawhuska tourism growth, sparked by last year’s opening of Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s Mercantile restaurant and store, Woolaroc CEO Bob Fraser said.
Many visitors are staying in Bartlesville and visiting attractions here and in Osage County.
“They have done a tremendous job there of encouraging their visitors — ‘to make sure you go visit Woolaroc, to makes sure you go visit Price Tower.’ They are sharing the wealth there, too,” Fraser said.
Fraser focused on two upcoming events — Saturday’s Cow Thieves and Outlaws Reunion and the Best of the Best Art Show, which opens Oct. 7 in the Woolaroc Museum. The show runs through Dec. 31.
“In addition to being outstanding events that are fun to put on that attract great local, state and national support, these two events over the last 10-plus years have raised more than $2 million for Woolaroc. Those two events have enabled us to do some of those things that you’ve seen when you come out to Woolaroc — the new exhibits, the new lighting in the museum. These were all things we wanted to do, but they would have been three years, five years, 10 years down the road before we could’ve funded them. Those two events have made those kinds of things possible,” Fraser said.
The Cow Thieves and Outlaws Reunion is the annual fundraiser for Frank Phillips Foundation, which owns and operates the Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve in Osage County. Fraser said more than 800 had signed up to attend the reunion’s 90th anniversary, and anticipates more than 900 will be at Saturday’s festivities.
The Reunion will feature an outlaw country concert with Mike and the Moonpies and country folk/Americana group the O’s. Guests also can selected one of three gourmet southwest cuisine options provided by Sterling’s Grille, The Painted Horse and Shorties Grille. Cup ’N Cakes will provide desert — an assortment of cupcakes. The Artist Tent also returns with 10 artists making their works available.
“Cow Thieves and Outlaws is a great party,” Fraser said. “You read sometimes that we call it the ‘best damn party in the state.’ That’s because it is.”
Best of the Best is a national recognized art show at the Woolaroc Museum. This year it fathers the work of eight artists — painters Bill Anton, George Carlson, Len Chmiel, T. Allen Lawson, Dean Mitchell and Andrew Peters and sculptors Tim Cherry and Steve Kestrel, Fraser said.
The first time Woolaroc hosted a national art show was in 2013. It has held one every other year since then.
“It was a major success. It was such a success that we some of us hesitated to think about trying it again. That first show started the process of putting us on a national stage,” Fraser said. “It got our name in front of people it needed to get in front of.”
In 2015, Woolaroc hosted the Best of the Best featuring the work of some of the best wildlife artists. It established Woolaroc on the national stage, he said. The art community realized Woolaroc was putting on one of the finest art shows in the country.
“We heard it from artists. We heard it from collectors. … People were saying ‘This is the way it used to be. This is the way we used to feel when we go to an art show,” Fraser said. “Everything is done right.”
Frank Phillips Home
The Frank Phillips Foundation and the city of Bartlesville continue the journey to put the upkeep and operation of the Frank Phillips Home In Bartlesville under the direction of the Frank Phillips Foundation. The trek started several years ago when the state revenue crunch started hitting the Oklahoma Historical Society, which operated the Frank Phillips Home. This year, the organization ran out of funding to support the Frank Phillips Home. According to the deed, the city of Bartlesville needed to take over ownership and operations of the Frank Phillips Home or bulldoze it to the ground and make the property a park. Fraser said.
The Foundation is trying to raise a $1 million endowment for the Frank Phillips Home. The legal documents are in the court system. The legal process, Fraser said, should be completed by mid-November.
“The good think about the Frank Phillips Home is they have done an incredible job of preserving that home. It is in great, great condition,” he said.
Fraser said he doesn’t expect any staff changes at the Frank Phillips Home. The Foundation’s objective is to “shoot a little life into it.”
“We foresee weddings on the grounds. We foresee events going on on that property. We want to have more activities than what they’ve been able to do in the past,” he said.