Visit the Heart of Oklahoma, home of racetrack champs
By Susen Foster
Quite often, locals drive Highway 77 north to Oklahoma City. Exit I-35 at Exit 72 in Purcell and begin the back road snaking its way through town, crossing the bridge into Lexington, cruising up the old Highway. It is horse country. The scenery is beautiful, the pace relaxed, the journey to be enjoyed.
Much of central Oklahoma is like this; two lane byways wander through homey little towns such as Goldsby, Lexington, Washington, Wayne and Purcell, which make up the aptly named "Heart of Oklahoma."
Located with easy access to I-35 south of Norman, these communities remain havens of peace and natural beauty, but are only a blink away from the amenities of the metro area, making them prime locations for business development and/or raising a family.
Traveling the Interstate, north or south, it's hard to miss the giant "See us for ANTIQUES" billboards that promise to provide over 150,000 square feet of vintage merchandise along Main Street in Purcell.
Historic Main Street's wide boulevard is only a few blocks long and virtually every store front hosts a thriving business: from eateries, salons, gift shops and eye doctors, to banks, furniture stores, abstracts and attorneys. But the most notable are the many uniquely different antique shops that guarantee to satisfy the most ardent Antique Road Show fan.
Each of these gems is artistically housed in a historic building that represents the variety and flavor of the store's owners. Alphabetically they are: Auntie Mae's Antiques & Collectibles, proprietor Floetta Mae Vaughn (405-527-5214, www.auntiemaesantiques.com); Butler's Antiques Shop located in the circa 1895 Hotel Love, proprietors Jerry and Elaine Butler (405-527-9592); Grapevine Antiques with its ever-changing display decor, proprietor Roselyn McAlister (405-527-0462); Ramblin' Rose Antiques & Collectibles specializing in vintage jewelry, proprietor Karen Nere (405-527-0404); and T's Antique Mall housed in the early 1900s opera house/1950s Canadian movie theater, proprietors Bob & Gail Trimmell (405-527-2766, www.greatantiquesmall.com).
These five businesses are not only the core of Purcell's Antique Merchants Association, but are also the hosts of the popular Loose Caboose Festival held annually on Labor Day weekend (405-527-0462, www.loosecaboosefestival.com); a family event featuring live music, the best in area and traveling food vendors, and many vintage vendors who come from across the plains to be a part of this well-attended event.
The name given this area of Oklahoma by the region's Chamber of Commerce is "Heart of Oklahoma." They boast it is where family comes first and business is booming. In addition, it is home to many of the world's most renowned race horse breeding farms. In fact, between Purcell and Denton in northern Texas is where aficionados from around the world search for the best upcoming racetrack champions.
Weather is almost always pleasant. Contact the Chamber at 405-527-3093 or one of the many antique shops for up to date information.
Editor's note: Susen Foster is the author of numerous travel books. She also designs fine natural stone jewelry and has a Susen Foster collection at www.overstock.com. Susen can be reached at 580-369-8999.