By ROB W. ANDERSON
It’s late April in Tahlequah, and that means it’s time for hound dog field trials, duck races, arts and crafts, food competitions and live music.
The seventh annual Red Fern Festival begins Friday at noon to honor the late author Wilson Rawls and his novel about a young boy and his two Redbone Coonhounds, and this year’s two-day festival will include the usual sights, sounds and activities.
It also features a T-shirt design that’s created quite a buzz on Facebook.
Friday’s event lineup begins with storytelling at 1 p.m. at the festival’s main stage, or the Keetoowah Cherokee Casino Stage, near the Norris Park gazebo. Turtle races will be held at 6 p.m., while live music will be provided on the main stage by Monica Taylor and Don Morris at 6:30 p.m. and the Red Dirt Rangers at 7:30 p.m. A viewing of the movie “Where the Red Fern Grows” will be presented at 8:30 p.m. in Norris Park.
Promotions for the event have been churning, and social networking websites like Facebook have been used the get the word out. A festival T-shirt promotion, which granted a chance at a free shirt to an individual who shared the Facebook post with friends, was seen by 26, 448 people, garnering 356 shares and 798 likes, according to the Tahlequah Main Street Association. Wes Smith was reported as the winner.
Tahlequah Main Street Executive Director Drew Haley said T-shirts can be purchased for $10 at the festival’s information booth, on the corner of Muskogee and Morgan, as well as at the Muskogee Avenue businesses Cashmere Lane, Junie’s Closet, Edie’s Fashions & Gifts, Everything Under The Sun and Vintage On Main.
“They’re all the same color, and I think we’ve got sizes small through double-X,” he said. “They’re pretty nice shirts.”
Haley said the festival is featuring checkers and horseshoe competitions on Saturday, and urged people to sign up.
“There’s no entry fee,” he said. “The Leadership Class  is still selling ducks for the race [scheduled to be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday]. They’re $5 per duck or five ducks for $20. They can purchased at the information booth, where they will also be selling red ferns [for $10].”
Current weather forecasts calls for a chance of rain and cooler temperatures, but the festival will go on as scheduled, said Haley.
“We’re going on with festival, rain or shine,” he said.
Saturday’s event lineup begins with a 6 a.m. Kiwanis pancake breakfast at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center. A car show and canned food contest will begin at 9 a.m., while kids’ games are set to start at 10 a.m. For more information on the festival, visit the festival website at www.RedFernFestival.com. The festival T-shirts can also be purchased online through PayPal.