'Heroes and Legends' postponed until 2022

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Osage County Historical Society has decided not to hold its annual “Heroes and Legends” honors program this spring, and to postpone the resumption of the program until 2022.

"Heroes and Legends" typically involves the Historical Society choosing five Osage County residents to be recognized for their contributions to the community. The choices are publicized in April of each year, and a dinner and auction are held in May.

In 2020, the Historical Society at first postponed and later decided not to hold the dinner and auction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Heroes and Legends" honorees are generally older people, and some of their family members attending a dinner with them would likely be people of advanced age. Given that older people have been more susceptible to hospitalization and death due to COVID-19, the Historical Society decided not to bring the 2020 honorees together for a public celebration.

There was, however, a 2020 class of honorees. Those five individuals were honored via newspaper articles regarding their accomplishments. The 2020 class included the late Kenneth M. Taylor of Hominy, John David Israel of Wynona, Jan Johnston-Tharp, the Rev. Kenneth Woodhams, and Wendy Ponca. Woodhams has since passed away.

There will be no "Heroes and Legends" class this spring, and Garrett Hartness, director of the Osage County Historical Society Museum, said past honorees have particularly enjoyed being able to gather in public and hold an event emphasizing the history of Osage County.

“We just felt like we didn’t know any more this year than we did last year,” Hartness said regarding how safe it might be to have a large gathering in public for a meal. “The people who have been honored in the past have really enjoyed the honor and it has become a kind of prestige thing for people.”

In light of continuing concern about public health, the Historical Society decided to wait until next spring.

“People are still a little uncomfortable about doing some things,” Hartness said.

The "Heroes and Legends" dinner is at least the second major local event affected this spring by continued unease about COVID-19. The Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce postponed its annual gala fundraiser, which is normally held in late March at the Elks Lodge. That event generally involves having hundreds of people in the Lodge for dinner and an auction.

This would have been the sixth year for "Heroes and Legends." It is a major fundraiser for the Historical Society.