It is with a heavy heart that the members of the Annie Oakley Committee announce today that Loretta Jones, our Annie Oakley impersonator and historian has decided that this year will be her last. Loretta has been “Annie Oakley” for the committee these past 17 years and we will miss her greatly. Be sure to stop by her tent (beside the festival headquarters building) during the festival to let me know how much you will miss her. Loretta will have her treasure chest of artifacts about Annie Oakley on display again this year.
Loretta has written a final goodbye letter to the community and it is attached here.
“Thanks for the Memories”
At the end of every performance, entertainment icon, Bob Hope, would sing this song as his closing act. And so I would like to take a phrase from his song and say: “Thanks for the Memories” Greenville, Ohio. Thanks for ten wonderful years of support and friendship and for allowing me to be your “Annie Oakley”. I will be retiring my Annie Oakley character after this year.
Annie Oakley was only 66 years old when she died, but left behind millions of fans and admirers all over the world. Her legend has lasted longer than most modern day heroes and heroines. She was a woman of conviction and stood firmly on the belief that she could be successful in a man’s world, while always keeping her lady-like qualities. She was respected by all who came in contact with her. Royalty throughout the world were amazed at her skill and accuracy with a firearm. Sitting Bull was touched by the kindness she showed him at a time when the relationship between the white man and American Indian was estranged. Annie, remembering her own childhood, had a soft spot in her heart for less fortunate children. Throughout her life she gave of herself through kindness and compassion so that they could realize the opportunity for a better future. She did so much for women in this country without realizing the power of her influence by just doing the right thing for her gender.
It has been an honor for me to portray Annie Oakley throughout the United States for the past 17 years. I’ve had the privilege of sharing her life story with audiences of all ages, enjoying every minute of the approving smiles of those who listened. Annie always said that in order to be successful at anything you do, you need to practice and I would add, be dedicated. My success as Annie has come through a dedication to the history of her life, learning all that I could about who she really was, especially as a person. As for costumes; I, like Annie, learned to sew at a very young age and have been able to fashion clothing from the many photos available of her. I’ve always been very much an outdoor girl, so learning to ride a horse and shoot a gun came as a natural transition into my “Annie Oakley” character.
“Annie” opened opportunities for me to meet many fellow historians and impersonators across the country, even meet some famous people of the early cowboy movies and their families; ride in the largest parades in the country and participate in community programs for those less fortunate. She brought me into the lives of her descendants and the descendants of Buffalo Bill, who introduced her to the world in his Wild West Show.
One of the highlights of my “Annie Oakley” career has been my involvement in the Annie Oakley Festival, in Greenville, where I have been able to bring “Annie” to life as part of this wonderful week-long celebration in her honor. I have so many wonderful memories of
Story Time at Darke County libraries for the children’s programs, putting a smile on the faces of the seniors at the retirement homes and visiting with all the wonderful folks who stopped by my “Annie” tent at the Festival for a nostalgic look back in time, and as a result.
This experience, along with the many return trips to Ohio to tell Annie’s story, would not have been possible without the invitation and assistance of the Annie Oakley Committee, for which I am truly grateful. I sincerely thank the Annie Oakley Committee, the City of Greenville, its’ businesses and residents for the warm welcome I have received year after year and the encouragement to keep returning; and sincere appreciate to the Garst Museum for including my portrayal of Annie in your many programs which paid tribute to Annie.
Finally, a Very Special Thank You to Annie’s family for sharing their stories and allowing me to be your “Annie” for all these years. Without this continued friendship and support from Annie’s own family; Grandnieces, Grandnephew, and the next generation of Great-Grand family, I would not have been able to portray Annie accurately.
And so it is with a little skip, a high kick and a wave goodbye, that I bid you all a fond farewell!
As Annie Oakley
Be sure to purchase your Annie Oakley Festival tickets before the festival to save. Tickets are available from the following business:
The Coffee Pot
Mayors office, Greenville City Building
Main Street Greenville
Darke County Visitors Center
Bill Hawkey and Associates
Barga Heating and Air
Lavy’s Mathathon, Gettysburg
The complete schedule of events for Annie Oakley Days is also available from our web site: http://www.annieoakleyfestival.org and from our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/annieoakleyfestival.
The Annie Oakley Festival is supported by a $500 grant from the Darke County Visitors Bureau, visit the bureau’s website: www.VisitDarkeCounty.org.