WATCH: Oklahoma Ghost Town Transformed Into Vibrant Tourist Spot Thanks to The Pioneer Woman
Pawhuska is the New Waco courtesy of Ree Drummond.
Chip and Jo’s Silobration may be in full swing, but sorry, Waco, there’s a new rising ranch town in the neighboring state of Oklahoma.
Welcome to Pawhuska. A once sleepy Osage County, town is experiencing a vibrant renaissance courtesy of The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. In the same way that HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines’ brought Waco to prominence, so too is the Food Network’s Ree Drummond transforming Pawhuska into a vacation destination.
Though ‘The Pioneer Woman’ debuted in 2011, two years before Chip and Jo’s ‘Fixer Upper,’ she didn’t open Pawhuska’s Mercantile until 2016, about one year after Waco welcome Magnolia Market. It’s been a whirlwind of excitement and upward growth since then, as a new Thrillist article chronicles.
Since the Mercantile’s opening—or ‘the Merc’ as locals and fans alike have affectionately dubbed it—Pawhuska has seen sales-tax revenue spike 33% across all businesses as a result of the tourists it draws. Soon, the Mercantile, a bakery, general, and restaurant, will also get a sister property in a new downtown hotel. Even before the property opens it doors, Pawhuska can host up to 15,000 visitors to the Merc. Considering the town only has 3,600 residents, that’s a huge influx of shoppers, diners, and overnight guests spending time exploring a former whistle-stop.
"For the longest time, we've only had two industries: oil and cattle," Joni Nash, the executive director of the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, told Thrillist, on the important role Drummond has had in dramatically influencing the area’s tourism. In fact, after the Osage Indian Nation, The Pioneer Woman is the second-largest employer in town, and nearly a dozen businesses have opened downtown, no doubt thanks to a ripple effect of The Merc. As lovers of rustic decor, quaint small towns, and all steaks chicken-fried, we couldn’t be happier for this lovely hamlet.
Now, if only Waco weren’t 431 miles away.