The Pioneer Library System is bringing a dose of "True Grit" to Norman this spring.
And the central point will be a day of Wild West festivities on Saturday, April 12, beginning with Norman's annual '89er Day Parade and finishing with hours of family activities featuring Pawnee Bill's Original Wild West Show at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds.
The events are the culmination of the PLS Big Read, an annual celebration of literature that is centered on a single book. That book this year is Charles Portis' classic "True Grit," the 1968 Western bestseller that takes place in southeastern Oklahoma. The book is being read throughout Oklahoma in several promotions.
"There is so much about "True Grit" that makes it a good choice for Oklahoma readers," said Pioneer Library System Public Information Officer Gary Kramer. "We are delighted to coordinate our PLS Big Read with other "True Grit" promotions that include an NEA funded The Big Read with the Southeastern Public Library System of Oklahoma, and the "Let's Talk About It Oklahoma!" discussion series of the Oklahoma Humanities Council."
PLS hosted book discussions, a scholar panel discussion, movie nights and more "True Grit" related activities throughout March and early April, leading up to the finale day on April 12.
The highlight of that day will be a rare opportunity for local residents to see the renowned Pawnee Bill's Original Wild West Show without taking a road trip to its annual summer presentation.
The show has been a summer staple in Pawnee, Okla., for years. It takes from Pawnee Bill's original route books and programs and will give attendees a look at the history, writing, characters and acts taken directly from the Pawnee Bill archives.
This is the first time Pawnee Bill's Original Wild West Show ever has been presented in Norman and the first time in several years the show has been presented anywhere outside of Pawnee, where they perform June 13-14 at the historic Pawnee Bill Ranch.
That show charges admission, but the Norman edition is offered free of charge, thanks to the support of PLS Big Read sponsors, the Norman Arts Council, Pioneer Library System Foundation, Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, Oklahoma Humanities Council, Norman Friends of the Library, and the Pioneer Library System.
The cast of the Wild West Show will be part of the morning's '89er Day Parade through the streets of Downtown Norman. They'll join the traditional favorites in that parade, including the participants in the annual Wagon Train, which makes its way north to Norman in the weeks leading up to the parade in horse and mule-drawn vehicles fashioned like old-time covered wagons making their way along country trails.
The time between the parade and the Wild West Show will be filled with a bevy of family-friendly activities, at a Family Fun Fair in and around the arena at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds.
Staff from each of the Pioneer Library System's 10 branch libraries, as well as local members of Cleveland County 4-H will put on a variety of booths, games, activities and presentations sure to entertain all ages, leading up to the beginning of the Wild West Show.
And just like Charles Portis does with the words inside the pages of his timeless classic, visitors to Norman April 12 will have a chance to step back into the Wild West for a day.