SWOSU to be Involved in Colony Events
Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford and Sayre has initiated an outreach project aimed at providing its students with opportunities to gain experience in various fields of study off the main campus locations.
The project will utilize the resources of SWOSU Foundation-owned property in Colony and other resources owned or operated in Washita County. SWOSU and its students will be involved in the SWOSU Labor Day Festival; GooberFest, a celebration of the area’s peanut harvest; a holiday event in December; and an annual domino tournament, all held in Colony, located 15 miles south of Weatherford.
John Parrish is coordinator of SWOSU’s involvement in the events.
In addition to giving SWOSU students, faculty and staff off-campus, interactive experiences, Parrish said the project will have economic impact on Weatherford and its entire trade area. The project will create tourism for the area as the schedule of events takes place and attracts an estimated 10,000 visitors.
Through grants, donations and SWOSU in-kind contributions, the university intends to renovate and remodel buildings it owns in the area. Parrish said this will provide jobs and bring dollars to the trade area. A schedule of events using university, public and private resources will provide employment and afford visual artists, artisans and performing artists the opportunity to display and sell their work.
The schedule of events begins with the SWOSU Labor Day Festival in Colony. The festival has three main features: The Gallery of the Plains Indian Art Show which started in 1981; the 65th annual Cheyenne Arapaho Powwow; and a Chautauqua presenting theater performance, music and history. Other features of the festival will include artists displaying their works, crafts people offering a variety of creations and food booths.
The Gallery of the Plains Indian Art Show will have its traditional preview opening in Oklahoma City on August 31 and September 1, hosted by the SWOSU Alumni Association and show founder Yvonne Kauger.
On October 7, SWOSU is partnering with the City of Colony to present GooberFest, a celebration of the area’s peanut harvest. This revival of an event that was discontinued three years ago will begin with a parade featuring the SWOSU marching band and rodeo team. Area high school marching bands will be invited to participate. While prominently featuring the agricultural bounty of the area, other attractions will include booths for artists, crafts and educational/informational organizations plus food vendors, games and, of course, peanuts. Parrish said every visitor will be treated to this tasty, healthy food.
Christmas in Colony will begin with choral performances featuring holiday music by groups from the SWOSU Department of Music, area public schools and local musicians. Holiday music will be featured December 1-3. The Colony community, located in a scenic valley of Cobb Creek, will be a visual feast of holiday lights. Lighting will be provided on public buildings and parks, on Seger Street (Colony’s main street) and throughout the town on businesses and private residences.
On the last weekend of January, the annual Colony Domino Tournament will take place as it has for the past 10 years. During the tournament, the town is filled with players from throughout western Oklahoma. Food and beverages are available.
Parrish said these events will provide an array of entertainment for the public, principally free of charge. It will also educate visitors about this area of Oklahoma and western Oklahoma’s oldest city, Colony, which was founded in 1886.
The town was founded at the location of the Seger Indian Training School begun in 1872. John H. Seger (1846-1928) headed the school and the area became known as Seger Colony, establishing the town’s name. The 2006 Chautauqua during the Labor Day Festival will feature a re-enactor presenting the life of this early educator and pioneer. Over time, different aspects of the history of western Oklahoma will be presented.
“The project will enliven cultural and artistic life throughout western Oklahoma,” Parrish said. “The artistic and cultural nature of this project will foster the talent of the community at large as all events are open for public participation. Involvement will be encouraged.”
Community partners with SWOSU for this outreach project are the City of Colony, the Weatherford Arts Council, the GooberFest Committee, the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribe and its Powwow Committee, SWOSU student organizations, the SWOSU Alumni Association, area schools and The Gallery of the Plains Indian Artists.
Many area youth, in addition to SWOSU students, will benefit from this project as both participants and event visitors. Youth will be involved with the Chautauqua, the PowWow, as exhibiting artists, in the parade, and in all the schedule of events activities.
Future plans include adding an annual quilt show and elements attractive to bus tour groups and recreational vehicle clubs.
Parrish said a long range goal of this SWOSU project is to foster an artistic community in Colony and the surrounding area. In keeping with the goal, SWOSU has two spaces for rent that are suitable for an artist’s gallery. Both are on the main street of Colony and afford serenity and the beautiful landscapes so desirable to a creative person.
Additional information about the project is available by contacting Parrish at 580.774.3766.