Tradition Continues at Doan’s May Picnic

Bound for the 2008 Doan's May Picnic, a rider from Oklahoma sets foot on Texas soil on the south bank of the Red River north of Doans, Texas. The river crossing is a yearly Hess-to-Doans tradition that typically attracts 50 or more riders. The yearly picnic has drawn participants from both Texas and Oklahoma since the late 1800s. The river has changed course over the years, but the crossing location is in the same area as the historic Doan's Crossing on the Great Western Trail. (Photo by Hanaba Welch)

The oldest continuously celebrated pioneer event in the Lone Star State is being readied for the 136th time as the Doan’s May Picnic in Wilbarger County kicks off on May 4.

On the first Saturday of May each year, hundreds of guests gather to celebrate an event dating back to 1884 when settlers of Doan’s gathered for lunch along the Red River for the very first time. If making plans to attend this year’s event, make sure to arrive by 11 a.m. to catch all the activities.

The small community lies just north of Vernon close to the intersection of Farm-to-Market 2916 and FM 924. It is named for the Doan family who settled the land in 1878, including Jonathan, his brother Calvin and nephew Corwin.

They had left their home in Ohio and headed for unsettled territory, paving the way for future settlers. Corwin Doan’s adobe home was built in 1881 near Doan’s Crossing.

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Cattle brands and Indian symbols in felt and beads adorn the fringed train of the 1955 Doan’s May Picnic Queen, Hanaba Munn (Welch). King Charles Crisp wore a fine headdress of many feathers. Doan’s Coronation motifs differ from year to year. The portrait of Queen Hanaba is colorized, a common practice for studio portraits of that era. (Photo by Norma Greene)