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Chandler's Pioneer Day Festival brings out the old and the new

Steve Browne / Red Dirt Report
Riley Grotts demonstrated his skill on a classic New Home treadle sewing machine he restored just in time for the festival.
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CHANDLER, Okla. -- The City of Chandler, located on old Route 66 in Lincoln County, held their second revived Pioneer Day Festival on Saturday, Sept. 26, on the courthouse lawn.

The festival featured historic arts and crafts, contests, historic walking tours, and carriage rides.

“It was an idea the Lincoln County Historical Society Museum and the Chamber of Commerce came up with to bring people to downtown Chandler for a day, and it’s Chandler’s birthday party,” said Teresa Harkins, chamber board member.

Chandler Pioneer Day on Saturday, Sept. 26, featured walking tours of the historic old town and carriage rides. (Steve Browne / Red Dirt Report)

Chandler was founded in 1891 and is one of the few Oklahoma towns that had its own land run, held six days after the land run of 1891, because the local surveys had not been completed in time.

According to Carol Beckman, museum volunteer, there were festivals celebrating Chandler’s pioneer heritage long enough ago that no one is quite sure when they stopped. Now the community is trying to revive them, starting small but with hopes of growing.

Beckman pointed out a marionette in the museum, a tribute to Mrs. Fay Armstrong who taught in Chandler public schools from 1911 when she was just 16 years old, to when she retired in 1961.

Mrs. Fay, as she is known to this day, used marionette shows to teach children manners and other lessons, according to Beckman. The tradition continues to this day in Chandler.

“Joanne McMillan now comes at the start of school every year,” Beckman said. “She does a week of residency and two weeks of shows.”

Local festivals provide an opportunity for people with unusual hobbies to display their passion. Such as Riley Grotts demonstrating his skill on a classic treadle sewing machine.

Grotts owns more than 40 classic sewing machines and donated a loom to the museum.

“I got ahold of a treadle ages ago, an Anker imported from Germany,” Grotts said. “I loved playing with it and my addiction began.”

Shari Telleen also demonstrated her sewing skills with a tradition pioneer costume she made herself, except for one item.

“This bonnet was made by my grandmother,” Telleen said.

Robin Crouch, leader of Girl Scout Troop 919, demonstrated Dutch oven cooking with campfire cobbler in a charcoal grill.

Robin Crouch, Girl Scout Troop 919 leader demonstrates Dutch oven cooking with a camp cobler recipe. (Steve Browne / Red Dirt Report)

“We usually do it on a campfire but this is the courthouse lawn,” Crouch explained.

Chandler still has a downtown with many of the original brick buildings and some of the older residential streets are still paved with bricks.

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Steve Browne

Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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