OKMULGEE, Okla. — Displaying wisdom, poise and ageless beauty, a group of women elders left the pageant panel of judges with a hard decision to make at the Okemah Muscogee Nation Indian Community Annual Elders’ Pageant on Oct. 13.
The ladies competed against each other in categories like traditional dress, traditional presentation, community/tribal contributions, and impromptu questions.
After some deliberation, the judges gave emcee, former Miss Muscogee Nation Claudia McHenry the official results, naming OMNIC member Mary Lee the contest winner.
According to Lee, she initially wasn’t going to enter the pageant until some members of the community encouraged her to do so.
“I finally said, ‘okay I’ll do it’,” Lee said.
Family and friends believe it was her motivation to lead programs like the MCN Vocational Rehab and her push for the Reintegration Program that helped her win the 2023 Elder’s Pageant title.
Lee honored her friends who came in second place, Jeannie Sands and third place, Susan Dotey.
The Fall Harvest Festival is a growing event in the community. It is hosted by the OMNIC and involves the City of Okemah and local businesses.
The event kicks off on a Friday evening with the pageant, followed by a Saturday full of events. This includes a parade that Lee and her competitors got to ride in through Okemah’s business district.
The parade included the Este Cate Hoktvke Suletawv (Mvskoke Women’s Honor Guard), who also marched in the Veterans’ Day Parade in Tulsa on Nov. 10.
The Hen House partnered with the OMNIC to host venders from early Saturday morning until the evening.
A car show displayed classic hot rods along the sides of main street. They were judged in contests as well.
Other contests included a fudge contest, barbeque contest, chalk contest, street games, karaoke, and a kid’s costume contest.
Kids were able to attend the kid’s fest at the center in the afternoon for pumpkin painting, face painting and a photobooth.
A “to go” fall feast concluded the events for the day, per tradition.
For more information, visit the Okemah Muscogee Nation Indian Community Facebook page.