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Fans have been watching Ree Drummond for years thanks to the Food Network’s hit show, The Pioneer Woman. Not only does Ree share her down-home comfort foods that her viewers love, but she also tells stories of how she met her husband and ended up living in the middle-of-nowhere, Oklahoma. Her life on the ranch is totally different than the city life she envisioned herself having when she was in college, and fans find they can totally relate to her day-to-day experiences of being a busy mom of four, too.

So, is Ree as “real” when fans meet her in person as she seems on her show, or is she more of a diva than many fans would realize? Here’s what fans have said.

Fans love how candid Ree gets on her personal blog

Many of us strictly know The Pioneer Woman from her hit show, but it’s important to note that Ree actually found a ton of success first from her blog. Forbes notes the “accidental country girl” started her blog back in 2006 and made the list on Forbes’ 2010 Web Celeb 25 for her popularity. As for how she attained such fame from her work online, it seems her mix of photos of the ranch, life as a country girl, recipes, and advice all made for the perfect blog.

As Ree said of her online work, “It may not be Susie Sunshine all the time, and I definitely have a sarcastically slanted sense of humor, but I think people know that when they come to my site they’re not going to see griping or political debate.” She also added that she thinks people enjoy her authenticity, especially if they’re not living in such a remote location themselves. “I would have thought that there were more rural-minded people, but it turns out all people can find something to relate to on the site, whether it’s the food or the ranch life or the photography.”

Those who have met her think she’s just as genuine in real life

She may be rich and famous now, but Ree is certainly a self-starter, and she’s managed to stay humble despite her multiple successes through the years. And some fans have even gone out of their way to visit Ree’s small town of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, to see what the locals really seem to think of her.

Thrillist contributor Khushbu Shah went to visit Ree’s shop, The Mercantile, which is a two-story all-purpose general store that includes a bakery and deli. She got to talk to Ree on the phone briefly, and Khushbu noted “she was every bit as genial and modest as she is on TV.” And the writer was even able to catch up some of the locals to get their take on what they think of the Drummond family. As one fan living in rural Oklahoma said, “That’s why I like Ree, she is just like me. She has to cook all of her meals. … It’s nice to see someone like us on the TV. It’s rare. Plus, she’s really clean and wholesome — what is there not to like?”

Even with a wait time of several hours just to get into The Mercantile, fans seem to line up every day for their opportunity to enter. They come back again and again for Ree’s “real American food,” and while her fans may not be nearly as well off as the Food Network star (she has a net worth of several million), Ree still manages to give off the vibe that she’s just like any other country girl. That’s what fans can’t get enough of.

She’s also doing great things for local businesses in Oklahoma

Here’s another reason people genuinely love the Drummond family: The Pioneer Woman has helped the local economy immensely. Thrillist reminds us Pawhuska has just 3,600 residents and was never a destination for anyone before Ree became famous. Now, the Drummonds have become the second-largest employers in the town apart from Osage Indian Nation, the publication reports. And Taylor Potter, the director of operations for The Merc, also explained that everyone working at Ree’s store gets paid a wage they can really live off of. “Ree doesn’t talk about this much but she has gone out of her way to ensure that everyone is being paid living wage,” Potter added.

Writer Khushbu Shah added that the director of operations also reinforced what other fans who met Ree had said — that The Pioneer Woman was entirely genuine. “The Ree you see on television, is the Ree you get in real life.”

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