PERKINS — Community support for the planned Oklahoma Territorial Plaza continues to amaze plaza coordinator David Sasser.

Sasser, who is also the treasurer of the Perkins Community Foundation, said more than 300 residents attended the Centennial Dinner and Auction at the end of March and donated $21,480 toward the plaza foundation.

“We had an amazing response,” Sasser said of the dinner, which had to be held at the old Perkins-Tryon High School gym to accommodate the large crowd. “It all goes back to the support of the community (for this project).”

Sasser also said much of the dinner’s success can be credited to Patty Johnson and the other members of the dinner committee who coordinated the event, which he is hopeful will become an annual event that will fund the maintenance of the plaza.

So far, more than $400,000 has been raised from the Perkins community alone.

Sasser said he is excited to announce that anyone who donates $1,000 or more toward the plaza will receive a copy of artist and Perkins resident Mike Larsen’s painting, “Tall in the Saddle.”

The next fund-raising event is the inaugural Pete’s Market Day scheduled for May 12 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in the 100 block of Main Street. The event is a joint effort with the city and Oklahoma Today magazine, which named Larsen the 2006 Oklahoman of the Year.

Martha Larsen, Mike Larsen’s wife, is on the foundation board and said the market day will be an annual event that includes crafters, fine artists and food vendors, and the money raised at the event will go toward the plaza.

Also on that day, there will be a ground-breaking ceremony at the site of the planned plaza, located on five acres just south of the state Highway 33 and U.S. Highway 177 intersection.

Larsen said the plaza, which will feature a turn-of-the-century church, barn and school house in addition to a centennial trails and arboretum and cultural center, will be like a time capsule for the city’s history.

“I love the way it honors the history of our community,” she said. “It’s very exciting. It’s validation for the reason Mike and I wanted to move into a smaller community.”

The plaza also will include two 12-foot statues, one of Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton and one of Chief Notchimine of the Iowa Tribe.

Larsen said she and other members of the foundation are meeting with horticulture specialists at Oklahoma State University who will advise them on what plants and flowers could be used at the plaza.

She added that she wants to use native plants and wildflowers earlier generations used.

Of the community’s continued support and donations, Larsen said the “citizens saw the need and made it rain to make it happen.”

Even after the dinner was held, Sasser said many contractors offered to donate their services in any way to help the construction of the plaza.

“This project effects everybody,” he said. “It’s one of those projects that unites the community.”

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