The Fourth of July is always a cause for celebration, and nobody takes that any more seriously than Rick and Myrna Sellers. The Oklahoma businessman and his wife throw open the gates of their ranch just outside of Drumright each year to over 10,000 people each year for the Summer OilPatch Festival. There's food -- cooked up by some of the best in the area, beverages -- soft and not-so-soft, and a lot of music. And it’s all for free. The Sellers family looks at the yearly event as a way to give back to the area.
Musically, the line-up is full of regional favorites, such as the Red Dirt Rangers, Bo Phillips, Rick Reiley, and rising talents Shawna Russell and LiveWire. Also each year, musical producer Clif Doyal invites a headlining act to play the show. In 2012, Kix Brooks played one of his first major solo shows at the event, and this year, Doyal went the legendary route with Country Music Hall of Fame member (and Tulsa resident) Roy Clark.
Just having celebrated his 80th birthday, Clark was as quick-witted as ever, sharing many jokes with the audience. But, while Clark has long had a history of humor – henceforth guest star shots on "The Beverly Hillbillies" and his long run in Kornfield Kounty on "Hee Haw," where the entertainer truly dazzled was with his impeccable instrumental prowess. Clark opened his set with "Alabama Jubilee," but also gave a rousing version of "Orange Blossom Special," and one of his trademarks, "Riders In The Sky," which made it to the Billboard top-30 in 1973 – a rarity for an instrumental recording. Of course, Clark has recorded many of the classic records of the 60s and 70s with vocals, and he didn’t let down fans there, either. Songs like "The Tips Of My Fingers," "If I Had To Do It All Over Again," and "Thank God And Greyhound" have lost none of their appeal over the years, with the latter getting an especially strong round of applause.
In an interview with Billboard, Clark said that due to the ongoing exposure of "Hee Haw" on RFD-TV, his audiences rum the gamut age-wise. "I get three generations coming up to me -- grandparents, parents, and children. We just might be on the air forever," he surmised.
Living just an hour away in Tulsa definitely has its’ advantages to playing the festival, Clark said. "I won’t have to check in a hotel or anything," he said with a wink. "There’s free entertainment all day long, all the food you can eat. It’s just a fun time for everyone. When you’re working that close to home, you’re a little out of sync because you are so used to making the long trips back and forth. You have to be reminded that when the show is over, you go home and sleep in your own bed, which is a good feeling."
The word retirement does not seem to be in the Grand Ole Opry member’s vocabulary. He says he loves being on stage as much as he ever has. "I hope I never lose it, because I feel as fresh today as I did twenty years ago. You have to have that, because people can look in your eyes, and they can tell if you are just reading a list down. You have to identify with the people out there, and when I go out, and I see the smiling faces -- I feel this sudden energy source from the inside that this is what I’m supposed to be doing -- and I’ll do it until I can no longer do it."
The Summer OilPatch Festival is sponsored by Keystone Gas Corporation and the Blue Flame Gas Company.