Celebrating all aspects of Western culture at The Cowboy Way Jubilee

When The Cowboy Way Jubilee returns to downtown Ardmore later this week, it will be bringing along the spirit of the Old West. The event kicks off Thursday evening with Heroes Parade for children. Then Friday morning begins three full days dedicated to all things cowboy. Celebrities from Western film and television, Western musicians and a wide variety of demonstrations are just a small sampling of everything the event has to offer.

Leslei Fisher founded the event in 2017, and she said the festival has been steadily growing. The first year it took place at the Gene Autry Museum. Last year it moved to Ardmore, and this year they have added the children’s Heroes Parade.

“The kids can come dressed up as any hero. It doesn’t matter what costume it is, but of course we prefer cowboys,” Fisher said with a laugh. She also encouraged anyone who would like to bring their canine pals along for the fun to dress them in costumes as well.

Children who would like to be in the parade are asked to start lining up at around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday outside the Santa Fe Depot. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. and will travel along Broadway and Mill Street, ending at the Paradise Alley Parking Lot.

Fisher said she got the inspiration for the parade from her childhood.

“When I was a little girl growing up in Oklahoma City, they had Forman Scotty on TV every day, and he would have little parades around the local shopping centers,” Fisher said. “The parades would move around town, and you’d show up with your bike or your dog to be in a parade around the shopping mall parking lot.”

One of the major events taking place at the Jubilee this year will be the Oklahoma premier of the new movie “Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws.” Fisher said there will be a $10 admission fee because it is a new movie. However, she pointed out the money is well worth it because the film is based on a true story from Oklahoma’s history.

“Bill Tilghman was a sheriff here in Oklahoma in the 1880s and 1890s, and he was known for catching one of the guys from the Doolin Gang,” Fisher said. “When he retired from being a sheriff, he made a silent film in the early 1900s using real outlaws! So this film is about the making of that film.”

Fisher said the movie will be screened every afternoon at the Mill Street Garage. This will be followed by a discussion with the director and five members of the cast. Among the actors on the panel are Robert Carradine and Johnny Crawford.

Other major attractions scheduled for the event will be taking place at the Paradise Alley Parking Lot. The area will be the home of all the Jubilee’s vendors and the area known as the Kids’ Korral. It will also be the site of several demonstrations over the course of the event. 

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, members of Prairie Grass Productions and Lone Star Legacy will be in this area dressed in period attire. These actors also have a deep knowledge of the era and will happily share stories with everyone who wants to learn more. The area will also host the Guthrie Gun Fighters, who will be holding mock shoot outs throughout the day on Friday and Saturday.

While all of the events taking place at Paradise Alley will be free and open to the public, there is a registration fee for adults to attend the festival itself. A variety of pricing options are available depending on which days and events you are most interested in attending. To see the full schedule of events and all the registration options available, visit www.cowboywayfest.com.

Fisher said there is no cost for children under the age of 18 to attend. In fact, any 18 year olds that are still in high school are also welcome to attend for free if they present some form of ID.

“They are welcome to come out and see the stars, hear the music and watch the movies (with the exception of “Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws” which costs $10) for free,” Fisher said. “The whole point of the entire event is to teach children about the cowboy music and the cowboy way of life and encourage them to embrace that.”