Tahlequah Daily Press


April 30, 2014

Red Fern Festival boasts another rousing success

TAHLEQUAH — From all accounts, last weekend’s Red Fern Festival was the biggest and best yet – both in terms of attendance and participation in fun events.

Tahlequah Mainstreet Director Drew Haley had set an attendance goal of 15,000 visitors in two days, and while he doesn’t have an exact count, he believed the crowds surpassed that benchmark.

The 5Cs Car Show, a perennial favorite, brought in dozens of people with their vintage vehicles. The hound dog field trials also gave folks to show off the skills of their animals, and as usual, the barbecue and chili cookoff gave area cooks a chance to strut their stuff.

New this year were the camel rides, trolley, and a miniature train that drew the interest of the kids. The mechanical bull was also a unique treat for cowboys – both the actual and the would-be.

Drew is already at work on the 2015 event, which will add some new features. And because the festival has grown exponentially with each outing, he’s looking at changing the layout and spreading the events throughout various points in the community.

Some observers are beginning to suspect that eventually, Red Fern could begin to rival the Cherokee National Holiday in terms of size and attendance. We don’t know about that for sure – we can hope! – but we can say that both events offer perfect bookends, spring and late summer/early fall, to draw crowds to Cherokee County.

As Red Fern continues to expand its reach and its venues, more and more help will be needed. Volunteers will increasingly play a big part of the festivities, and no doubt fresh ideas will be welcomed and taken into consideration.

If you have any comments to make about this year’s festival, or those in years to come, call (918) 456-3742. That’s the office of both Mainstreet and the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce.

Kudos to Drew – and Chamber Director David Moore and Tourism Director Kate Kelley, too – for another tremendously successful Red Fern. Downtown merchants agree; they, as much as anyone, reaped the benefits of the influx of visitors.

There’s more on tap from Mainstreet, including art walks and Movies in the Park – and then, of course, there are the holidays. Stay tuned for more fun!

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