March 14, 1997
The latest copy of Oklahoma Today, one of my favorite magazines, has just arrived and it is the annual special travel issue, a delight for the eye and the mind with its beautiful photographic reproductions and interesting stories about some of our state's most fascinating tourist spots. The travel issue targets families looking for things to do and places to see in Oklahoma, but it should be required reading even if you're not hunting suggestions for vacation travel. Just knowing that all these places exist should make you feel proud to be an Oklahoman.
To organize the material, the magazine divides the state into "the eight corners of Oklahoma" and describes them as classic destinations. The eight are the Panhandle, the Northwest, North Central, Northeast, Southeast, South Central, Southwest, and Central. An additional section describes some of the state's bed and breakfast inns. Perry is placed in the North Central section and it doesn't come off very well in all this.
Now, I recognize the difficulty of being all-inclusive in an undertaking of this sort, but I must question the editors' criterion for some of their selections, or rather their omissions. Many readers who see this issue will be unfamiliar with the state, and they won't learn anything about Perry from the magazine. The editors cannot be expected to list every local jubilee or gala offered by individual communities. But I am offended that they did not at least include our Cherokee Strip celebration while Enid's is singled out even though theirs occurs around Labor Day, not on the actual week of the September 16th anniversary. (Enid is placed in the Northwest section of the state by the magazine.)
Perry has celebrated the historic opening every year at mid-September since 1894, without interruption. Enid has not, although it did wake up in time to cash in handsomely during the 1993 Centennial year. Perry is not even shown on the map of the North Central area, where neighbors such as, Stillwater, Ponca City, Pawnee, Red Rock and Marland are among the locales included. Red Rock makes the listing as the location of the Homestead Bed & Breakfast in northern Noble county, several miles from Red Rock. The Homestead is duly described in a rundown on the North Central section's highlights, but it is not mentioned at all in the separate article on bed and breakfast inns. Go figure.
What's our problem? How come the editors of this fine magazine don't know where Perry is (judging from their schematic map) and are not aware of our proud tradition in celebrating the opening of the Cherokee Strip to settlement on September 16, 1893? What should we do to overcome such glitches in the future?
The need for a community marketing plan may be indicated here, some way to combat further such oversights. Individuals and organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Perry Main Street, should be writing letters to Oklahoma Today to remind them that we are still here, still struggling to let the world know that Perry is a fine place to live and a good community where our heritage has been celebrated ever since there has been a place called Perry, Oklahoma. They used to say this was “the Queen City of the Cherokee the Strip” and many of us still believe our community is deserving of that appellation.
I don't think we suffer from an inferiority complex, but somehow we need to make our friends and neighbors aware of our existence, and then perhaps we'll all feel a sense of relief. Buy a subscription to Oklahoma Today for $13.50 a year. Call them at 1-800-777-1793 to place your order, and you might mention the date of our Cherokee Strip celebration at the same time.