For many it was an unusual first occasion, for others it was like a step back in time.

Will Rogers was the star attraction of the “Follies and Flicks on Route 66,” sponsored by the Miami Arts and Humanities Council.

It started Saturday morning with the traditional chili contest held in the parking lot by the First National Bank.

Everything was picked up, packed up and boxed up by 1 p.m. for the beginning of the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College homecoming parade on Main Street.

The program on Will Rogers began at the Coleman Theatre at 1:30 p.m. and was introduced by Steve Gragert, curator at the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore.

He told of one of Rogers' visits to perform on the Coleman's stage on Feb. 2, 1931, to raise funds to provide drought relief.

Charles Banks Wilson, an artist and one of Miami's own famous sons, was a teenager at the time and was backstage sketching Rogers.

“I visited Wilson as he was preparing for the exhibit of his work that is on display at the Gilcrease Museum,” Gragert said. “I saw the painting that Wilson made from those sketches. He laughed and said that many people have told him that painting he did while so young was the best he ever made.”

“I only know about Will Rogers by reputation, but as an alumnus of Will Rogers Junior High School, I've studied him some,” said Danny Dillon, a Miami High School teacher and a volunteer at the Coleman Theatre. “He seemed to be the type of person who taught the ideal way we all should live.

“He traveled around the world and was a diplomat for both our country and our state.”

While introducing Roger's movie, “The Ropin' Fool,” Gragert described the movie as a classic, - “not because of the story line, there was nothing exceptional in that, - but the roping is almost a teaching tool, a guide for how to do the tricks.”

“The Ropin' Fool” is a 22-minute silent film, in which Rogers stars and that he produced.

The silent film, narrated by Rogers' son, incorporated special effects rarely seen before then such as slow-motion photography that showed how the tricks were done and dispelled the belief that it was fake.

Rogers also painted his ropes white so they would show up better in the movie.

Tom and Jewel Witty from Grove enjoyed the program on Will Rogers.

“Kids under 60 might not remember Will Rogers, but he was a big star to me,” Tom Witty said. “I saw quite a few of his movies and read his comments in the paper.

“I went to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College for two years and I spent quite a few hours in this theatre. I'm just sorry I didn't get to see Will Rogers when he was here.”

Following the intermission, Doug Watson, a Will Rogers impersonator, gave the audience a taste of what Will Rogers was like.

Siblings Tate and Grace Miller accompanied their mother and their friend Aidan McWaters from Quapaw to the program on Rogers.

“We both enjoyed the chili contest and the parade,” Tate Miller said. “I know of Will Rogers from visiting the museum in Claremore.

“He was a very important man and did many good things.

The art competition, open to elementary school-age students living in Miami was held early in the week.

The winning pictures, judged by at Will Rogers Middle School art teacher Connie Benedict, were mounted by members of the Miami High School Chapter of the National Honor Society in the windows of Sooner Printing on Main Street.