Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 3, 2014

Red Fern weekend less than a month away

TAHLEQUAH — Though the Red Fern Festival is still more than three weeks away, anticipation is building for one of the city’s biggest and most well-attended annual events.

The eighth festival is April 25-26 in downtown Tahlequah. Most events are at Norris Park, with others staged at Sequoyah City Park, the Cherokee Capitol Square, and along Muskogee and Water avenues.

As many in Cherokee County know, the Red Fern Festival is inspired by the Wilson Rawlins novel, “Where the Red Fern Grows.”

“While the festival is only eight years old, it has been blessed with success from year one,” said David Moore, executive director for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce. “The festival is centered on a book many people relate to. It is a book about hard work, determination and heartbreak. Those are things we deal with in our daily lives.”

Drew Haley, director of the Tahlequah Main Street Association, said Red Fern preparations are “going great.”

“We’ve streamlined the process for our vendors,” Haley said. “They can go online and pick out a spot on the map, and we can accept vendors until the day before the festival or we run out of room. I’m also excited to see downtown involved with sidewalk sales. There will be something to do along all those blocks.”

The two-day community celebration features live music, the barbecue and chili cookoff, and a rubber duck race. Many local organizations plan fundraisers in conjunction with the festival. There are also the hound dog field trials, animal exhibits, games for children, and the auto show with cars, trucks and motorcycles.

“We like showing off our cars,” said Mitchell DuVall of the Cherokee Cruisin’ Classic Car Club, or 5Cs. “People like looking at old cars, and I think they reminisce about the cars they drove when they were young.”

DuVall has participated in the Red Fern Festival since its inception in 2007, but he promises to be more relaxed this year.

“I am not president of the car club anymore, so I don’t have as much work to do,” he said.

“I will have more time to talk to members of the other car clubs at the festival. It’s a lot like a family reunion. I know the chili cookoff is always good, and the festive games are a big draw for everyone who attends.”

Thousands are expected to attend the festival, many from beyond Cherokee County.

“From the perspective of the chamber, Red Fern is also a big economic boost for Tahlequah,” Moore said. “It brings people from around northeast Oklahoma and across the country.”

The festival opens at noon Friday with arts and crafts, and the newly added vintage show. Vendors for the show should be able to display collections or assortments of vintage items. Photographs, rugs, movie posters, clocks, toys, and furniture are welcome additions. Further suggestions are listed at redfernfestival.com with the vintage vendor form links.

Friday continues with storytelling at 1 p.m., a cake walk at 5:30, turtle races at 6, and live music at 6:30. The evening concludes with a screening of “Where the Red Fern Grows” at 8:30.

The car show begins Saturday at 9 a.m. at Capitol Square. Children’s games are at 10.

The barbecue and chili cookoff begins at 11, as do the hound dog field trials at Sequoyah Park.

The horseshoe tournament, and the checkers tournament at Iguana Cafée, start at 1 p.m. The duck race starts at 2. Awards are announced at 5 and live music begins at 6 p.m.

Bands which have already signed to perform at Red Fern include the Hank Williams tribute Hankerin’ 4 Hank, and the Tulsa folk duo Barton and Sweeney.

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