Tahlequah Daily Press


May 2, 2012

Kudos for another Red Fern success

TAHLEQUAH — Several thousand people showed up last weekend to immerse themselves in the Red Fern Festival, prompting organizers to deem the three-day event a success.

Those who laid the groundwork and provided most of the elbow grease – Kate Kelly and David Moore of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, Drew Haley of Tahlequah Mainstreet, and dozens of other volunteers – have every right to be proud. With a little help from Mother Nature in the form of good weather, they managed to pull it off pretty much without a hitch.

In the few short years of its existence, the Red Fern Festival has become one of Cherokee County’s pillar events, surpassed in magnitude only by the Cherokee National Holiday. While the Holiday has long stood as the capstone for fall activities, Red Fern has in six years assumed a similar position for the spring calendar.

Attendees – especially those at the movie Friday night in Norris Park – commented on how good it was to run into friends they hadn’t seen in a while. Others particularly enjoyed all the good food, and sharing it with their friends. Several people have indicated they reconnected with folks from their past at Red Fern – and didn’t even need Facebook to do the work for them! It was all up-close and personal, just like it used to be in communities like Tahlequah.

Parents reported Red Fern provided the perfect family venue, from the ever-popular crawdad hole, to the sack races, to the rubber ducky race, and even to the hound dog field trials, which many adults consider a serious affair.

Simply put, Red Fern brought folks together. In Tahlequah especially, parades do that, too, but not nearly to the extent Red Fern does, and not for the length of time. And parades, while they provide a few hours of respite and entertainment, aren’t really conducive to conversations about how you’ve been, what the kids are doing, and what ya’ll are planning for the next month or so. You can watch them with others, but you can’t interact and participate like you can at a three-day event in a park downtown.

A few folks so enthusiastically embraced the festival this year, they even called or wrote the Press with suggestions on some events that might be added to future Red Ferns. Of course, we pointed them in the direction of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, at (918) 456-3742. David, Kate, Drew and the crew down there are always looking for ideas, and we’re sure they’re already hard at work on Red Fern 2013.

Congratulations to them, and to the host of others who had a role in making Red Fern such a rousing success.

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