By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
Longtime Sandite Sandi Byerly was presented with the Hometown Hero award by Mayor Mike Burdge at the 28th Annual Herbal Affair Saturday afternoon in downtown Sand Springs.
Byerly is credited as having helped start the Herbal Affair and Festival along with the late Ruth Leib in 1989.
The "small" garden party attracted more than 800 visitors in its first year, and grew annually thanks to the efforts of Leib and Byerly. Today, the Herbal Affair attracts more than 25,000 individuals annually.
According to a City press release, Byerly traveled the Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas countrysides seeking out the best gardeners, artisans, and food vendors in the region to help make Herbal Affair unique.
Local volunteer group The Herb Society was formed by the Byerly-Leib duo in conjunction with the City of Sand Springs.
Byerly opened The Garden Trowel shop in the former Sand Springs Railway station in the early 1900s, specializing in gardening and cooking. She also helped with the landscape design and installation of the City Garden Park across the Municipal Building.
Currently, Byerly designs and produces jewelry through her company, Elements of Nature.
Bylerly is a perpetually active volunteer in the Sand Springs and Tulsa communities, working with Special Olympics, Little Light House, and the Tulsa Boys' Home. She is a founder and former president of the Sand Springs Symphony League and an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Sand Springs choir.
Leib passed away in 2010, but not before receiving the Hometown Hero award in 1999. The Herbal Affair mural in downtown was also dedicated to her memory.