Werner shares lessons Annie taught her


By Ryan Berry


BROCK — She was a lady that was known around the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her skills with a gun made her legendary and with that status, there was a lot of fiction passed down from generation to generation. However, the facts of her life are still more impressive than some of the tall tales that have been told. Those facts are why hundreds of people continue to come to Annie Oakley’s gravesite every year, even though it has been nearly 100 years since she passed away.

The grave isn’t hard to find. There’s a sign pointing to Annie Oakley’s Grave off of U.S. Route 127, north of Ansonia, and when you get to Brock Cemtery, there is a very visible historical marker next to her grave.

While new people continue to discover her grave, there are many people that take the pilgrimage each year after the new Miss Annie Oakley is named. That was the case again this year. The annual pilgrimage put the 2022 Miss Annie Oakley Madison Werner side-by-side with the 2023 Miss Annie Oakley Brooklyn Dillman as they laid the wreath at the foot of Little Miss Sure Shot’s grave.

Several years ago, the pilgrimage featured the winner of an essay contest who shared what they’ve learned about Annie Oakley. Today, it is an opportunity for the outgoing Miss Annie Oakley to share what she learned about Annie and how knowing about Annie Oakley has affected their life.

This year was Werner’s opportunity to share what it was like to wear the sash and honor Annie Oakley. Werner not only served as Miss Annie Oakley in 2022, but she also won the contest in 2019 and was limited in her opportunities to represent the festival due to the pandemic.

“Over the years, Annie has become a part of me. Not only has she influenced me to step out of my box and be different from other girls, she has given me the confidence to be a leader in my community. She has pushed me to try new things,” she said. Werner also told those gathered at the grave that Annie let her know it was okay to be proud that she is a woman. “A woman who is not afraid to step up. A woman who is confident in her abilities and a woman who is happy with who she is as a person, regardless of how others feel.”

In her closing remarks, Werner said, “Annie has forever changed me, and I will forever carry her with me. In the end, I feel that was what God’s plan was.”

Werner thanked everyone that has supported her over the years and added, “I’m so happy to be able to finally hand this over to Brooklyn.”

The wreath that was laid at the grave was provided by the Rose Post. The Annie Oakley Center Foundation was also present for the event. Eileen Litchfield represented the organization and shared, “This is a very appropriate place to be during the Annie Oakley Festival. The purpose of the Annie Oakley Center Foundation is to promote the accurate memory of Annie Oakley and to support the National Annie Oakley Center at Garst Museum.”

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