, Muskogee, OK

September 17, 2013

A hint of fall means a busy time for Chamber

By Gary Perkins
Chamber Notes

— It’s a great day with the first hint of fall in the air, even though ever so slight.

Mums are showing up at all the plant-and-flower outlets, which is always a good sign of the end of summer. Any change will be welcome after the past several weeks of “hot and dry.”

It also signals the start of one of the more busy times at the Chamber.

We are preparing for the quickly upcoming Smokin’ the Fort BBQ & Bluegrass Festival (Oct. 25-26), the Christmas Starlight Parade (Dec. 2), closely followed by the Annual Banquet in February. The end of the calendar year also signals the mailing out and renewal of Chamber memberships for 2014.

The theme for this year’s Starlight Christmas Parade will be “A Magical Christmas.” This early announcement should give all you float-builders plenty of time to get creative and come up with the winning entry.

This period also signals the introduction of the Annual Fort Gibson Christmas Ornament. Our plans are to have it available for sale at the BBQ Festival. Watch for the announcement of what the ornament will feature and where it can be purchased.

This will be the sixth year for the annual ornament. The ornaments quickly are becoming collector items.

The BBQ & Bluegrass Festival planning committee met this past week to make sure everything was on track for this year’s event. It’s  expected to be the biggest and best yet.

Several teams already have committed, vendors are sending in their reservations, bands have been booked, and meat is being secured for this year’s “Taster’s Choice” competition. The public gets to sample all the tasty meats and vote for their favorites.

We have received the “Official Proclamation” from Gov. Mary Fallin declaring Oct. 25 and 26 as “Smokin’ the Fort BBQ & Bluegrass Festival Days” in Oklahoma.

We have added several new elements to our event. New this year will be a Certified KCBS Judging Class. This special class will be held  from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 24 at Town Hall. The cost is $55 if you are a member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS). The cost is $90 is you are not a member. Entry fee for non-members includes a one-year membership in KCBS.

Completion of this class makes you eligible to judge any KCBS event as a Certified Judge in all categories. You can register online at, or by contacting either myself, at, or Alissa Gage, at There will be “open bluegrass” picking for anyone or any band that would like to come down either Friday evening or Saturday, and just jam. The professional day-long bands playing this year are Kenny Cantrell Band, Meyer Family Band, and Lonesome Road Bluegrass Band.

Along with all the great food, the music for this event is always outstanding. Don’t miss it.

We had a great turnout for our weekly Chamber luncheon. Present were: Lisa Clayton; Carol Milligan; Kathy Perkins; Cheryl Hill; Tonia Cooper; Denise Bain; Mark Young; Justin Young; Lauren Young and son Westin; David Perry; Cliff Garrett; and myself. We will be meet at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 19 and 26 at Subway. We will move to Fajita Rita’s for October. Come join us.