Established the same year that Oklahoma became a state – 1907 – Blanchard has spent much of its existence serving as what some might call a “bedroom community,” i.e. somewhat isolated, yet within a few minutes’ reach of a major metro (in this case, Oklahoma City).
Lately, however, U.S. Census figures have borne out what is becoming most evident: Blanchard is shedding its bedroom status and growing into a more vibrant community with a personality all its own.
The city is on the cusp of offering visitors a significant reason to stop by. This fall, construction is nearing completion of a unique memorial in the downtown area that will pay tribute to the nation’s military veterans: the Veterans Memorial Park on Blanchard’s main thoroughfare. Blanchard Mayor Michael Scalf, Sr. is also chairman of the organization spearheading construction and financing of the memorial. He believes it will prove to be something worth a detour off Oklahoma’s interstate highways.
Dedication of the memorial (which is roughly patterned after a memorial in Jeffersontown, Ky., that Scalf saw while on a vacation), is tentatively scheduled for November – just in time for the annual Veterans Day observance.
Inclusion in the memorial is open to any veteran throughout the U.S., “as far back as the Civil War,” says Scalf. Commemorative, opaque glass bricks are being sold to help finance the project, with the design allowing up to 1,500 honorees’ names.
About 500 bricks had been sold at this writing in late August, with funds raised from brick sales and from major corporate donors.
Blanchard sits at the intersection of U.S. 62 and SH 76, located about 30 miles southwest of OKC. It’s close to the intersection of Interstates 40, 44 and 35 that pass through OKC. Scalf says that until recent years, the lack of direct interstate access has hampered Blanchard’s growth. There is ample evidence, however, that the city is overcoming that deficit, and the memorial will help immensely.
Blanchard began as a railroad community situated in western McClain County, but the recent growth has pushed the city into neighboring Grady County. In fact, Winter Creek, an upscale housing development that features an 18-hole golf course, lies in the newer area on Blanchard’s west side.
The mayor saysanothersimilar development is anticipated on the west side of the city, and recent hints of still another development on Blanchard’s east side have residents buzzing.
Blanchard is showing significant population growth, sitting at just under 10,000, according to U.S. Census figures. By contrast, the city’s 1980 population was about 1,600.
Cheryl Hendricks, Blanchard Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, is a 20-year resident of the city. She says economic activity has picked up markedly in recent years.
“We have a few smaller businesses that are feeling an economic crunch,” says Hendricks, “but overall, we’re doing pretty good.”
The Chamber of Commerce, in its appeal to prospective businesses and residents, touts the city’s warmth and benefits of a small town, all while providing easy access to a major metro.
Events throughout the year include a May festival, an annual Independence Day celebration that Scalf says draws 7,000 to 9,000 people, a two-day bluegrass festival in August, and a downtown Christmas parade.
While remaining tight-lipped, Hendricks said “big things” may be coming that will affect Blanchard in a positive way.
“They will make everyone happy,” she says.
Blanchard Chamber of Commerce
405-485-8787 • blanchardchamber.com
City of Blanchard
405-485-9392 • cityofblanchard.us
Blanchard Veterans Memorial Park