MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 25, 2013

Museum to show flavor of Muskogee

Institute devoted to Southern food; Civic Center boss to help produce Oklahoma exhibit

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Muskogee will soon be featured in a New Orleans food museum, thanks to an invitation to Cassandra Gaines to join its board.

Gaines, the manager of the Civic Center and the Roxy Theater and the organizer of the Martin Luther King Soul Food Cook-Off, was invited to join the board of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum by Kathleen Weldon, a free-lance food writer who is the curator of an Oklahoma exhibit at the museum. Gaines will help curate a part of the exhibit featuring soul food, Muskogee, the cook-off and much more.

“It’s an honor for them to even ask me to be on the board,” Gaines said. “It’s not about me, though, it’s about whatever it takes to promote our city.”

Gaines said her display would include items such as rolling pins, recipes and photographs.

“They will be showcasing soul food for a year, and all we’ve done with the Soul Food Cook-Off will be on display there,” she said.

Gaines added that said she was excited about showcasing soul food cooking July 7 in New Orleans.

“I’ll be down in the French Quarter, promoting Muskogee and cooking my specialty dishes,” she said.

Museum President Liz Williams said it opened in June 2008 in New Orleans’ Riverwalk Marketplace.

She said the museum was planning a big move this summer and wanted to bring Oklahoma into the fold, now that it is expected to have more space.

“We want to represent all of the states of the South,” she said. “So we have been talking to her (Gaines) about Oklahoma. She has just been such an enthusiastic supporter of the culture of Oklahoma. We thought she is just the kind of enthusiastic person we want to have on the board.”

Williams said the Oklahoma exhibit would be a permanent part of the expanded museum, with some elements of change as artifacts and exhibits are rotated.

“We really talk about all the ethnic groups that come to settle in these parts,” she said. “How did they affect the culture? How did the culture affect the food? Just a general history of food, and we illustrate that with various artifacts.”

The museum also is interested in obtaining Oklahoma Southern food and history artifacts for the exhibit.

For information about the Southern Food and Beverage Museum: www.southernfood.org.

To donate artifacts for the Oklahoma exhibit: call Weldon at (504) 569-0405 or send email to info@southernfood.org.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.