DAVIS — Vic Garrett is surrounded by trouble, but he's not circling the wagons, he's selling them — and his guns, holsters, spurs, saddles and boots and livestock-working equipment.
It's not the average farm or ranch auction. It's Arbuckle Wilderness, the exotic animal theme park. Owner Garrett is putting excess ranch equipment, some land and lodgings and most of a lifetime collection of Western memorabilia and historical artifacts on the auction block Friday and Saturday.
Garrett hopes the proceeds will provide a lifeline for the park, which is among a slew of businesses in a bind since First National Bank of Davis failed in March after 116 years in business.
Pauls Valley National Bank acquired most of the Davis bank's assets. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took the loans, though, to sell to investors, and after years of dealing with a friendly lender in Davis, Garrett said he's found himself on the phone with rank strangers in New York.
“When the loan was called due, we had no choice but to sell,” Garrett said. “We have an annual sale, but this one's cutting really deep. What's that saying? We're not broke, but we're badly bent. It's amazing. When a small-town bank goes down, it devastates a community like this.”
Randall Hill Auctions, of Atascosa, Texas, will start to straighten out Garrett's affairs by selling equipment and real estate on Friday and mostly Western collectibles on Saturday at 1101 E Main St. in Davis, just east of Interstate 35 about 100 miles south of Oklahoma City. The auction site is a pasture north of State Highway 7, a mile east of U.S. 77. The auctions, also online, start at 10 a.m. both days. For a list of auction items, go to www.1bid2.com.
Garrett said he is not closing Arbuckle Wilderness and that he still plans the grand opening of the Old West town he's been building this fall. It just will be without the saddle from the 101 Ranch near Ponca City, the spurs from the Y O Ranch near Kerrville, Texas, and many other historic pieces.
There's no telling where some of Garrett's collection could wind up, auctioneer Randy Hill said.
“There's lots of collectors on the East Coast for Texas and Oklahoma stuff,” he said. “The cowboy (collectibles) are extremely popular on the East Coast.”
Among the artifacts is an official copy of President James K. Polk's report on the state of the Union delivered to “the two houses of Congress” Dec. 2, 1845. Annexation of Texas and diplomacy “between the U.S. and British Govts over Oregon” dominate the message, then delivered in writing, not in person. The United States and Great Britain divided the “Oregon Country” in 1846, which set Oregon, Washington, Idaho and parts of Wyoming and Montana on their way to statehood.
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