Barnsdall Chamber plans 69th Bigheart Day

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce is deeply involved in preparations for the community's annual Memorial Day weekend extravaganza -- Bigheart Day. With help from numerous interested local residents, the Chamber is working on the event schedule and lining up sponsors.

Bigheart Day 2022 will be the 69th edition of the celebration.

The deadline for sponsorships is April 15, Chamber Treasurer Jason Byers said. Anyone interested in making arrangements for a sponsorship can call Byers at 918-629- 5315, or contact Chamber Secretary Melissa Pearson via email at barnsdallcoc@gmail.com. A range of sponsorship levels has been suggested.

"We're still finalizing the schedule," Byers said, explaining that it includes many elements that persons who have previously attended Bigheart Day will likely find familiar, but with some changes to the schedule to make it easier to join in the fun at a relaxed pace.

Bigheart Day events are anticipated to begin Friday, May 27, but the main day of activities will be Saturday, May 28. A Memorial Day service will be held Monday, May 30 at a local cemetery.

Chamber President Steve Overacker said an important element of the plan for Bigheart Day 2022 will be to give recognition to the vital role that the Osage Nation plays in the community, and to honor the descendants of Osage Chief James Bigheart.

"That will be a key focus this year," Overacker said. "We want to make sure that we really show them the appreciation they deserve."

An effort has also been made during the planning process for Bigheart Day 2022 to reach out to residents who have been attending the celebration in years past, but whose opinions about the content and structure of the schedule may not previously have been heard.

"It's really interesting to hear their voices," Overacker said, noting that attendance at planning meetings has improved and practical suggestions for beneficial changes have been made. "We're hearing the voices of the people we've been trying to entertain for the past several years. it's been fascinating."

Overacker said one of the changes that has resulted from more community involvement in planning is the adjustment of the schedule to include more transition time between events, so that participants aren't rushed from one activity to the next.

Both Overacker and Byers praised the involvement and effort of Chamber Secretary Melissa Pearson. Overacker described her as a "game changer" who has played an important role in reaching out to younger residents.

"She, by herself, has really transformed our Chamber," Overacker said.

Another change that Overacker mentioned is that the meeting held during Bigheart Day for members of Barnsdall High School graduating classes from yesteryear has been converted into a barbecue meal to be served at a local event center.

Overall, the adjustments that are in progress are intended to make Bigheart Day more relaxed and enjoyable for everyone, he said. For persons interested in finding out what all the fresh optimism about Bigheart Day is about, the Chamber's next noon luncheon meeting will be Tuesday, April 12 at the Community Center.