Over the past decade and a half, Gov. Mary Fallin has watched Septemberfest grow into a bustling fall festival celebrating Oklahoma's heritage, history and culture.
While she's never missed an installment, last year's event was particularly special since Fallin and her husband, Wade Christensen were hosting the free festivities for the first time.
“My husband and I and my children really enjoyed being at Septemberfest last year,” Fallin said. “It was so fun to see Oklahomans from all across the state; many of them had never been to the Governor's Mansion or on the grounds of the mansion. It was really a great experience to see the young children running through the yard and going from exhibit to exhibit and excited and laughing and just having a great time.”
On Saturday, Fallin and her husband again will host Septemberfest, which features a wide range of activities at the Governor's Mansion, at the Oklahoma History Center and along NE 23, which will be closed for the event.
“Of course, the best part about Septemberfest is that it's free to the public (and) a wonderful way to spend time with your whole family for the young and old alike,” Fallin said in a phone interview this week from the mansion.
Friends of the Mansion Inc., a nonprofit organization working to restore and preserve the Governor's Mansion, started Septemberfest in 1997, but Christensen attended the festival for the first time last year.
“We spent the whole day out talking to people, and he read some books to some of the children,” Fallin said. “He grew up on a farm as a young boy and worked on the farm himself, so he was out showing some of the children and adults how to milk a cow, talking to them about some of the displays we had of various tractors and agriculture equipment ... so he had a great time.”
The agriculture venue also features hands-on attractions like a rope-making station, barrel-train and carriage rides, and this year, a Fun Tent packed with multi-sensory activities that will replace the hay bale maze, said Jim Hasenbeck, Septemberfest co-chairman. The wheat, peanut and dairy commissions typically set up shop and invite visitors to sample tasty treats like cinnamon rolls.
“I just remember as a kid going to my uncle's farm every year and then as I got older, I started staying there for a week and then two weeks and then during high school, staying the whole summer with them,” Hasenbeck said. “The family farm unfortunately is disappearing ... but I think a lot of that feeling is brought to the grounds during the festival.”
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