Patriotic party draws crowd

Allison Weintraub | ournal-Capital
A group of riders at the end of the Pawhuska Freedom Celebration Parade. The parade kicked off the Patriotic Party on the Prairie, an all-day event.

Allison Weintraub/Journal-Capital

Pawhuska celebrated Independence Day with a parade, food and other entertainment, despite small amounts of drizzle during the day.

This Fourth of July was a collaboration between the city, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile for the Patriotic Party on the Prairie. Those celebrating could stroll down Kihekah Avenue to find a variety of activities and merchants to satisfy their cravings.

Taresa and Darrell Settlemires were some of the many people waiting in the Mercantile’s notorious line during the morning. The couple came from Enid to spend some of the day in Pawhuska.

“It’s our first trip over here,” Taresa Settlemires said. “We thought it’d be a good day to come check it all out, with all the extra parade and everything going on.”

Ladd Drummond, co-owner of the Mercantile, said the event was going well, when asked in the morning.

“Everything’s great,” Drummond said. “Weather’s perfect, it’s a lot of people coming out. It’s just been a lot fun so far.”

Drummond said the rain in the forecast hadn’t worried him.

“As a rancher, I love rain, so I’ll take rain anytime,” Drummond said. “That old habit dies hard. Can’t turn down a good rain.”

Kurtess Mortensen, executive chef at the Mercantile, said the goal of the day’s activities was to keep people entertained without a strict timetable.

“We didn’t really have an agenda,” Mortensen said. “We thought if people are going to be here anyway — usually people do spend the whole day with us, so we wanted to give them something to do and make it a memorable experience.”

The Mercantile set up five booths parallel with the storefront, so people could have more food options to keep them entertained, said Mortensen. He also said the booths were made out of pallets from the Mercantile’s warehouse.

“We tend to be pretty practical in what we do,” Mortensen said.

On the streets surrounding the Mercantile, vendors from across the state set up shop. From popsicles to soap, celebrators could add to their Fourth of July with local products.

Kelli Newsome, a co-owner of OKCollective Candles, said the similarity between her business and the Mercantile came down to location.

“Made in Oklahoma is the biggest part for sure. I mean, she really appreciated handmade, so I think made in Oklahoma is the biggest thing,” Newsome said.

Newsome said when she got to Pawhuska at 6 a.m. a line was already beginning to form outside the Mercantile, which matched the line she encountered July 3.

“There was a line the entire day, so when we went in, we talked to the head chef and he said yesterday was incredible already and … today would probably be their best day since they opened, so not to be scared or anything,” Newsome said.

Local businesses had made plans for increased crowds. Shelby Bute, who was manning the counter at the Brick Teepee, said most of their shoppers are walk-ins from the Mercantile line, so the business prepared by pulling items to the front of the store.

“Everyone was just stopping in and asking questions about Pawhuska,” Bute said. “It’s really cool.”

Mortensen said at the end of the day, the best thing happening was the holiday at the root of the celebration.

“The coolest thing is that it’s a celebration of our freedom and our liberty and the fact that we can all gather together and have a great time like this, where so many people in the world can’t,” Mortensen said.