Tahlequah Daily Press

April 27, 2013

Red Fern Festival honors novel, movie

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Saturday’s light rain and cooler weather didn’t keep crowds of visitors from stopping by the annual Red Fern Festival in downtown Tahlequah.

Now in its seventh year, the Red Fern Festival honors Wilson Rawls’ beloved novel, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and its ties to Tahlequah and the area.

Saturday’s celebration included live music, games, food and vendors at Norris Park; the 26th annual Cherokee Cruisin’ Classic Car Club’s Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show at the Cherokee Capital Square; the Red Fern Barbeque Extravaganza; the Tahlequack Duck Race; hound dog field trials at Sequoyah City Park; and a host of other activities for all ages.

Paul Cagle, of Locust Grove, brought a piece of movie history to the 5C’s car show. Cagle owns a 1929 Model A Ford that was used in the original movie version of the story.

“My business was on the highway frontage of Locust Grove, and I had a bunch of old cars in my yard at the time – what was it, 40 years ago?” said Cagle. “This truck was sitting there – no top, no bed, and it was rusty and everything.”

One day, H.B. McCullough, a location scout for the 1970s film, noticed the old truck.

“He said, ‘We need a pickup like that in the movie,’ and told me if I could fix it up in three or four weeks, they would use it,” said Cagle.

Cagle set to work making a top for the truck, and later painted it with the same paint he used for truck beds built at his business.

“It was really nothing special,” said Cagle.

Now, that 1929 Model A is part of movie history. The truck can be seen in the opening scenes of “Where the Red Fern Grows.” Cagle ended up putting a number of vehicles into the film.

Actors in the movie weren’t allowed to drive the vehicles belonging to Cagle; instead, he and his son, Phillip, would do so.

Cagle spent much of Saturday sharing his story with visitors to the annual car show.

Just across the street, in Sequoyah City Park, hundreds of people gathered for the hound dog field trials. Participating canines had the opportunity to test their skills in several trials.

Ten-year-old James Wilson, of Wainwright, brought along his female English bluetick, Bell, for their first participation in the event.

During the treeing competition – hounds are graded by the number of barks they produce in a specific time frame – Bell accumulated 48 barks, drawing applause from the bystanders.

Event organizers say the methods used during Saturday’s contest are often used to train hounds that are new to coon hunting.

James, himself a coon hunter, said he has two hounds.

“I like getting the tails [of coons] to train my dogs,” he said.

 

We'll have more details about this weekend's Red Fern Festival in the Tuesday, April 30 edition of the Daily Press.