By Derrick Miller

The tradition continues.

Stephens County Historical Museum members and member-hopefuls will converge Thursday in the annual membership drive kickoff stew dinner at the Museum.

Pee Wee Cary, museum director, explained the reason for the annual membership drive: “Since we don’t charge admission, we’re a museum that relies on memberships, donations and fundraisers.”

About 500 letters were sent out to existing museum members, and about 200 people are expected to attend the event. Each year, the dinner generates between 20 and 25 new members.

Because of the effort to increase membership, members aren’t the only ones invited to attend. The invitation is open to anyone who might want to join.

“What we do is just have members or anyone else who wants to join, come,” Cary said. “It gives everyone a chance to come.”

And like every year, there will be a guest speaker.

This year’s guest speaker is Walter Eskridge, who is a member of the Oklahoma Centennial Committee. Museum members contacted the state to get a member of the committee to take part in the annual program.

Eskridge, a retired teacher, works in the Oklahoma Museum of History as the curator of education.

Cary said he expected Eskridge to discuss Centennial-related items during the dinner.

Dinner will be served between 5 and 6:30 p.m. and the guest speaker is slated to begin his address around 6 to 6:15 p.m.

The museum director said the event would give members and potential members a chance to get together and discuss local history and the museum.

“Hopefully, we have a good turnout, and more people become members of this great organization,” Cary said. “This is the annual fundraiser that we have.”

He said anyone could become a member. “People of all ages can be members, from four to 94,” he said.

In addition to boosting membership and gathering members, the dinner also serves as a chance to show off the museum.

“We really have a nice museum for the size of the town,” Cary said.

Reservations for the dinner should be made no later than noon on Tuesday. To make sure there is enough food, people will have to specify how many people are in their party when making the reservation.

“This is going to be a fun night for families,” Cary said.

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