Tahlequah Daily Press


October 10, 2011

Art of Living Festival delights visitors

TAHLEQUAH — Under starry skies Friday evening, people of all ages were having fun together in Norris Park at the Art of Living Festival.

In every direction, folks from 7 weeks old to grandparents enjoyed the ambiance, food and music available throughout downtown.

Friends, families and visitors relaxed on quilts, or strolled around talking, eating, sampling wine and shopping.

Children entertained themselves on the playground equipment long after dark, as musicians performed for a crowd that flowed through the park in every direction.

Meandering Orange and Turnpike Troubadours opened the two-day event as the Friday-night headliners.

Wagoner resident Cara Roberts had heard Meandering Orange play at Canebreak before, made the trek to Tahlequah with her husband and 8-month old daughter, Wren,. The family had dinner at Sam and Ella’s and stayed for the music.

“It’s her first concert,” Cara said of her daughter. “We plan to check out the art galleries later. It’s a really great way to experience Tahlequah for someone who’s new to the area.”

The weather was perfect for the festival, which continued through Saturday night.

Elvin Bishop fans were looking forward to the Saturday night show, including Donna Mae Jones.

“[I’m here for] the art, the music, the festivities and seeing my friends,” said Jones. “And, of course, Elvin Bishop.”

Tanner Thomas came to experience the arts festival, and said the energy of the people exhilarating. He, too, is a fan of Bishop’s.

“Elvin Bishop was known as one of the best singer-songwriters in the 1970s and ‘80s,” Thomas said. “He’s from Tulsa.”

Kim Clanton enjoyed the overall sense of camaraderie.

“You couldn’t ask for much more than this; good people having a good time,” she said. “I grew up listening to Elvin Bishop, I used to watch him perform at Whiskers and the Wharf in Tulsa.”

Vendors for the event were selling everything from jewelry to food seasonings. Mom and daughter Betty and Jennifer Pardee manned the Holiday Seasonings booth, which offered organic gourmet popcorn seasonings like curry, spicy barbecue, vanilla and Mexican.

“We wanted to do something with food, so we found our niche with seasonings,” Jennifer said.

Some attendees shopped for themselves, while others seized the opportunity to buy gifts for others. Marie Crouch bought a tie-dye shirt. Meagan Peppers and David Tinsley found a birthday present for Meagan’s sister.

“We came out of boredom,” Peppers said. “I like the tie-dye baby clothes and jewelry at Hippie Chick Creations. I bought a necklace.”

A number of others returned to Tahlequah for the Squeeze Inn Reunion, including Marie Crouch, Barbara McCay and Terry Wright-Judge.

“We all used to live here, now this is our annual slumber party,” said Crouch, from Vinita. “We’re here to see the Red Dirt Rangers and Randy Crouch perform.”

She’s glad to see the event moved to October.

“Last year, I came from Nashville with Barbara, but it was too hot in June,” she said.

Saturday, George and Linda Barton played at the Iguana Cafee.

“We love seeing all our friends here,” said McCay.

Driving from Fort Worth, Terry Wright-Judge enjoyed seeing all her friends and had plans to drive on to Joplin Sunday to see family.

“I love going down State Highway 10,” she said. “It’s so beautiful, scenic and full of color this time of year.”

Sitting on a bench, watching people pass by, Amanda Barnes, Amanda Pritchett, and  7-week-old Isabel Barnes, were enjoying a girls’ night out.

“It’s good to see the community get together, and all these kids running around having fun,” said Barnes.

They came at Pritchett’s suggestion. She wanted to see what art they had for sale.

“Meandering Orange is really good. I didn’t know there was going to be music,” Pritchett said. “It’s a nice night.”

Tom Barlow was very pleased with the event. “This is exactly what it was supposed to be. Kids on the playground, teenagers, an older crowd, people who go out all the time, everyone having fun.”

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