By ROB W. ANDERSON
Oktoberfest, of sorts, is coming to Tahlequah.
On Saturday, Oct. 20, area residents will have an opportunity to enjoy OksWagen Fest, a celebration of Volkswagen, and by extension, all things German.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Jim Smythe, who has owned Volkswagens since his college days.
Smythe recently approached Tahlequah Main Street Association Executive Director Drew Haley with the idea for the festival.
“We’re going to have an art car. We’ve got Dennis Garde giving us a ‘67 Volkswagen Beetle, and the kids will get to paint it whatever they want,” said Smythe. “We’re going to use tempera paint and Dawn dishwashing detergent, so you can take it to the car wash. So it comes right off, and it doesn’t make the parents quite so mad.”
The event features a car show that begins at noon on North Muskogee Avenue, between Morgan and Goingsnake. Judging will take place at 1 p.m. A poker run will be held at 3:30 p.m., with seven stops scheduled for the chance to win half the pot, which will be shared with the Tahlequah Main Street Association. Polka music will also be provided, starting at 6 p.m.
“We’re going to have brats, and 10 percent of the money from the beer sales, and everything goes to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is in October,” said Smythe. “And there’s a tailgate [party] that day [at the Northeastern State-Central Missouri game].”
Smythe came up with the idea for the festival after attending the Eureka Springs, Ark., show that features the German-made car famous for housing the engine where the trunk is normally located.
“I have [attended the Eureka Springs show] for about seven or eight years, and on my way back, I was thinking, ‘Why can’t Tahlequah have something like that?’ It’s a quality, little group of people,” said Smythe.
He pointed out that years ago, many national or regional events were held here, such as the Tulsa fly-in or a local event for area parachutists.
“In that era, we didn’t have any nationally-recognized motel, which was one of the problems. They wanted something they recognized. Now we’ve got that,” Smythe said. “So I came down [to the Tahlequah Main Street] and said, ‘How about it, Drew?’ This year, it was going to be just a small, intimate get-together, and now it’s grown exponentially to where we have people from Tulsa, Arkansas and Texas coming up and bringing trailers and trailer queens.”
A “trailer queen,” for those who don’t know, is a show car that is moved from place to place in or on a trailer. Some can’t be driven, but others can.
Haley said Smythe didn’t realize who he was talking to when approaching him with the idea.
“He came in and asked the wrong person: the guy who can’t say no,” Haley said. “So here we go.”
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