Before things got started Wednesday night, Ree Drummond, perhaps TV’s most famous pioneer woman since Laura Ingalls Wilder, wanted to get one thing straight: “I am not the suspicious package.”
In town to preview her new line of housewares for Walmart at a rooftop reception on Capitol Hill, Drummond’s “Salute to America’s Farmers and Ranchers” was almost sidelined by a “situation” near Union Station. A suspicious vehicle and abandoned piece of luggage were being investigated by the U.S. Capitol Police on the street below, causing significant travel delays and more than a few looky-loos from the rooftop of the party for the star of Food Network’s “The Pioneer Woman.”
“It’s right there,” whispered several staffers huddled at the corner of the roof, directly above said package. The rest of the crowd were huddled near the actual star of the evening.
“My daughter is going to lose her mind,” said one attendee, clutching a copy of Drummond’s latest cookbook “Come and Get It” in one hand and a cellphone in the other. The TV personality, dressed in cowboy boots and blue jeans, had a smile that never wavered as she posed for one photo after another, signing books and cheering on fellow fans of butter. Carrie Underwood blasted from the speakers as the line to get close to Drummond grew and the clouds grayed.
“I support farmers and ranchers,” Drummond told us once we passed the crowd, where there were apparently at least five actual ranchers, in suits, in attendance. “I didn’t really set out to be an advocate, but just through sharing my point of view, people have gotten to see that. I just support agriculture.”
Several congressmen from Oklahoma, where Drummond and her fourth-generation cattle-rancher husband raise their family, were in attendance: Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), and former senator Don Nickles (R-Okla.) among other members. But the Pioneer Woman isn’t adding politics to her to-do list.
“I really am comfortable sharing the agricultural way of life in the way that I do,” said Drummond, who juggles a popular cooking show, blog and hometown restaurant. “I don’t feel called to lobby or enter the political realm. I like to stay where I feel like I have the most to share and the most to contribute.”