Tourism on the Chickasaw Nation just got exponentially more attractive. Yesterday, the tribe cut the ribbon on three new venues: The Chickasaw Visitor Center, ARTesian Gallery and Studios and Bedre Café in Sulphur, Oklahoma.
“Opening these new facilities is an exciting step into a new era of tourism in southern Oklahoma,” Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said. “From gourmet chocolate to gorgeous artwork and natural beauty, these new facilities offer something for almost everyone in an area that already provides travel experiences that entertain, inform and enlighten.”
Courtesy Chickasaw Nation
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby was joined by tribal and local officials and a host of community members to cut the ribbon for the new destinations.
Chickasaw Visitor Center - Sharing the Story
The visitor center—eco-friendly and constructed of native stone, glass and copper—will be the hub of information, showing the tribe's connection to the land. It will also be the gateway to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, founded in 1906, the only national park established at the request of a tribe, the Choctaws.
“This Visitor Center is part of our long-range plan to help promote tourism in this area,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “We believe this will be an excellent venue to welcome guests to the area and encourage them to discover the natural beauty, history and hospitality of Chickasaw Country.”
The split-level visitor center includes an information desk, a multi- purpose gallery, media room, public restrooms and a gift shop on the street level. Office space is located on the lower level.
Bedre Café - A Chocolate Lover's Paradise!
Situated alongside retailers at the Artesian Hotel, the Bedre Café is a one-of-a kind coffee bar, candy store, sandwich shop and confectionary.
Many menu items feature Bedre Fine Chocolate, a Chickasaw Nation business. The café offers gourmet coffees, fresh fruit smoothies, made-to-order deli sandwiches and freshly baked goods like cookies, muffins, and layered cakes. The menu also features hand-dipped ice cream cones, ice cream sundaes and signature shakes.
The fifties-era inspired eatery also includes a retail area.
ARTesian Gallery and Studio Offers a Place to Create
The almost 7,400 square-feet ARTesian Gallery and Studio not only shares fine art, it's a space to create it. Renovated to complement the grand Artesian Hotel, located across the street, the ARTesian Gallery and Studio features an art gallery, classroom space, reception and retail space.
The gallery and studio is esigned to assist and promote Chickasaw and other artists. The facility houses a pottery studio and up to five separate studio spaces, which will be available for artists to rent.
The building is complete with a gallery, classroom space, a smart board and ample space and equipment needed to create. Art classes for all levels from beginning artists to professional artists will be offered. The ARTesian will also offer “make and take” classes and classes specifically designed for visitors and tourists to the area.
Chickasaw textile artist Margaret Roach Wheeler’s studio space includes a variety of looms for weaving workshops and classes.
The gallery area provides an excellent venue for artists to display and market their work as well as a reception area for “meet the artists” events and gallery art shows.
Supplies for creating all types of art, from high-quality paint brushes and watercolors to crayons and coloring books, is available in the retail shop.
Chickasaw and Native artists are also available in the retail shop.
For more information about the ARTesian Gallery contact the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts and Humanities at (580) 272-5520, or the ARTesian Gallery and Studios at (580) 622-8040.
Investing in Chickasaw Country
The new facilities are part of an overall Chickasaw Nation initiative to promote tourism and economic development in Chickasaw Country, said Gov. Anoatubby.
“Visitors to the area bring more jobs and enhance local, tribal and state economies. We believe our continuing investment in this area will help sustain our longstanding partnerships in this area and benefit the state and local economy far into the future.”
Significant investments in Murray County include the Artesian Hotel, the Chickasaw Cultural Center, located in Sulphur, and Bedre’ Chocolate Factory and Chickasaw Welcome Center, both located at exit 55 along Interstate 35 near Davis, Okla.
More than 205,000 people have visited the Chickasaw Cultural Center since it opened in July 2010.
More than 3 million people visit Murray County each year. Other attractions in the area include Turner Falls, Lake of the Arbuckles and Cross Bar Ranch all-terrain vehicle trails.
Gateway Park is currently under construction on the southwest corner of U.S. 177 and S.H. 7. The park combines natural and man-made beauty and features art work by Chickasaw artist and Sulphur native Joanna Underwood.
For more information about events, attractions and lodging in Chickasaw Country, visit chickasawcountry.com.