As the weather warms up, it’s time to rekindle that sense of community that makes Tahlequah a standout among rural communities of Oklahoma.
For the past several years, April has been one of the most-anticipated months in Cherokee County – first and foremost, because of the Red Fern Festival. But a number of other activities on the agenda are sure to usher in spring with a flourish.
An important election featuring two city run-off races and a millage for the county health department will start the month on a serious note April 2. City voters will choose between Nate King and incumbent Clay Mahaney for police chief, and Charles Carroll and Jonathan Wells for Ward 2 city councilor. A few miles away, Hulbert residents will be selecting their own town councilors.
Voters are also being asked to decide whether the health department, dealt a serious blow by a facility flood in 2011, should return to its normal level of services. The bond issue, while requiring only the smallest contribution on the part of area property owners, could make a world a difference in the lives of many desperate Cherokee County residents – many of whom have suffered terribly in the wake of the Great Recession. The health department provides so many vital services to the general public, but especially to the elderly, children, and the poor – those who, on this Easter Sunday, we must remember as “the least of these.” We believe this issue is worth your consideration.
Now comes the fun part! A slate full of activities marks the month’s first weekend. A newly formed committee concerned with fluoride in the city’s water supply will meet Friday at 6:30 in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building. That should be an interesting venue for those focused on health issues.
Tahlequah Farmers’ Market hosts its opening day of the season Saturday, April 6 at Norris Park. On the other side of town at the Community Building, the Oklahoma Home and Community Education will offer its popular annual bazaar and flea market. Meanwhile, at the courthouse, the Democratic Party will hold its county convention beginning at 10 a.m.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and on Wednesday, April 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., a Rally Against Child Abuse will be held on the Cherokee Square, hosted by local advocacy groups like Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee Country. April 10 is also the opening day of NSU’s Symposium on the American Indian, which runs through the week and features a number of forums, seminars and talks by noted dignitaries.
On Saturday, April 13, a community cleanup will get under way at the city’s solid waste transfer station and at Felts Plaza. A kite-flying event will entice folks to the Cherokee Heritage Center, and a marble-making class is on tap with the United Keetoowah Band.
Wednesday, April 17 marks the opening day for the Vietnam Dignity Wall, which will offer an emotional gathering opportunity for area veterans and families at the Sequoyah Schools football field. Saturday, April 20, the Trail of Tears Art Show opens at the Cherokee Heritage Center. That day also marks the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” fundraiser for Help-In-Crisis.
Finally, on Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27, the Red Fern Festival will bring thousands of area residents and visitors into town to enjoy feasting, music, games, contests, a grand car show and other fun activities. Saturday afternoon, Habitat for Humanity supporters can strut their stuff at a fundraiser Zumbathon.
These events present exciting opportunities to augment our sense of community, but they may be just the tip of the iceberg. Many other activities we don’t know about yet are also on the drawing board. We’ll keep you informed, and we’ll also be staffing as many things as we can. But it’s up to you to choose to participate, and to celebrate life in Cherokee County. You’re invited, and we hope to see you there!