The Cookson Jubilee, Cherokee County’s annual lakeside celebration, is just around the bend – and if you don’t know jack about it, this is your chance to learn.
Arts and crafts, entertainment and family fun are the highlights for the 39th annual event, slated for June 20-21. This year’s theme is “39 and Holding - Don’t Know Jack!”
The Jubilee takes place on the Tenkiller Area Community Organization grounds, 32247 S. 540 Road, next to the Tenkiller Airpark, on Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.
For the second year, the Little Miss Lake Tenkiller Pageant, for girls 6 to 10 years old, will be held Friday night at 7.
Volunteer Rachel Blankenship last year brought back the pageant, which was once a popular aspect of the Jubilee. The six girls signed up this year will model casual wear, swim wear and glamour wear.
“They will incorporate the theme by using props; I told them to use their imagination,” said Blankenship.
It’s a laid-back, family-friendly event, said Blankenship.
“The pageant is something for the kids to be involved in while parents enjoy the day,” she said.
All girls receive a T-shirt, with the first-place winner taking home a crown, sash and bouquet of flowers. Second place gets a small bouquet of flowers and a gift card.
“Most of the girls were contestants last year, so that tells me they had fun,” Blankenship said. “After I get a few pageants under my belt, we may expand it to include older girls, too.”
For Blankenship, participating as a volunteer is a way to pay tribute to her grandmother, Linda Doublefield.
“She used to be part of the TACO organization,” said Blankenship. “I like to be involved in community events, and when I got involved, I asked around what people wanted, so I brought the pageant back.”
The Jubilee has good entertainment and brings people out from other communities to the lakeside.
“I grew up around Lake Tenkiller, and I’m shocked more people who live so close don’t come out to the lake,” Blankenship said. “This event raises awareness about TACO and advertises for local bands, and helps get their name out there. It’s a good way to support the community.”
Three booths will offer wood items. One vendor has turned out plates and bowls; another makes cedar furniture, plant stands and shelves. A third vendor will offer dominoes, jewelry boxes and picture frames.
Pat Highley, TACO volunteer, said all will be available at reasonable prices. It’s her second year to coordinate vendors.
“Last year, I did much of my Christmas shopping during the Jubilee,” said Highley. “I enjoy all the people, and getting to know people. Last year, I got to know vendors, and now we keep in touch on Facebook.”
Food vendors will offer Indian tacos, cotton candy, funnel cakes, specialty fruit drinks, snow cones, big pretzels and much more.
“You name it, we’ve got it,” Higley said.
The TACO Cook Shack has been serving all kinds of burgers, barbecue and more for 27 years, and is organized by volunteer James Kenney.
“We are still accepting vendors; the more, the merrier,” said Higley. “I’ll accept vendors up until the last day. They can call me at 918-457-4689.”
Many volunteers have been involved with the Jubilee since its inception.
“I started volunteering with a candy store,” said TACO President Cindy Ballew. “It started in the Centennial year. We had turtle races and men grew beards for a contest.”
The theme this year honors the Jubilee’s 39th year, Ballew said.
“As volunteers like Bill and Donna Sherrick and myself, who have helped continually since it started, considered whether we want to do this another year, we thought of Jack Benny,” Ballew said. “He said, ‘Don’t Know Jack,’’ so we’re putting his profile on our T-shirts this year.”
With the Cookson Jubilee turning 40 next year, volunteers are looking for others who would like to help make it a huge celebration in 2015. Interested volunteers can call or text Ballew at 918-931-7811.
The event is free, but a $5 per-vehicle fee will be charged to help offset expenses. Since it’s an outdoor event, attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets for comfortable seating.
Musical entertainment, sponsored by the Payne Radio Group, includes Heavens2Betsy and Clayton Gardner on Friday. Saturday’s lineup includes LiveWire, Patty Clay, Caragan and Haddison Bradley, Chance Anderson and headliner Brandon Jenkins.
No coolers or alcoholic beverages are allowed. Free tickets to the shows can be obtained by listening to local radio stations announcing businesses that have tickets. Stations include Tahlequah, 102.1 FM, 96.3 FM and 1350AM; Muskogee, 101.7FM; Eufaula, 102.5 FM; and Hugo, 95.5 FM.
The Cookson Jubilee is sponsored by TACO, a 501(c)3 organization, with the goal of betterment of the Lake Tenkiller area. For information contact, firstname.lastname@example.org or search “Taco Cookson” on Facebook.