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October 27, 2013

75th Anniversary

Will Rogers Days celebrates favorite son



Will’s friend and fellow actor Joel McCrea has been here several times, not only on Nov. 4, but other visits. His grandson, Wyatt, who lives on the McCrea ranch in California, was in Claremore for the 70th anniversary of the Museum opening. 
Add to the 75-year list cowboy trick ropers and actors Montie Montana and Rex Allen; and Richard Ketchum, author of Will Rogers: A Man and His Times. 
Will’s sons and later his grandsons and granddaughter and great-grandchildren, his great-nieces and nephews, especially the McSpadden sons who grew up on the ranch, have always been a part of Will Rogers Day.
Optimists, Lions, Rotary, Elks, Masons and Shriners have played an important role in celebrations along with political office holders nationwide.
Twice during Will Rogers Days, in 1962 and 2004, descendants of Will Rogers have held a family reunion.
The year 1975 marked the first year of multi-day celebrations and a “Country Fare,” a return to the basics. It was the brainchild of the late Dr. Richard Perryman who worked with a big committee of community planners, including Donna McSpadden, whose husband, Clem, was raised on the Rogers’ ranch, where his father was the ranch manager.
It rained and it snowed and much of the Country Fare was staged in Markham Hall on the Claremore Junior College campus, where remodeling was underway and some of it had been gutted, even down to the dirt.
Will Rogers Days continues to be a multi-day event with new twists. A birthday party at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch includes trick roping entertainment by Kowboy Kal, trick roping title holder, an original musical written by Oologah-Talala teacher Kim Grazier and a birthday cake for the hundreds of children who come in the big yellow bus.
Children’s Day at the Museum finds another several hundred children swarming the hills at the Claremore Museum to hear a Cherokee storyteller, sing cowboy songs, play games and try their hand at calf roping and trick roping skills.

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