Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 19, 2013

Strawberry fest bringing big fun to Stilwell

TAHLEQUAH — A sweet festival is in bloom, and the second weekend in May, it will be ripe for the picking.

The 66th annual Stilwell Strawberry Festival, set for May 11, features the crowning of the Strawberry Festival Queen, a parade, arts and crafts, carnival, car and tractor show, poker run, and 5K run, with more than 700 participants.

The fun is big – like country music entertainer James Wesley – as well as down-home, as locals join returning classmates and friends for school reunions.

The Stilwell berries may be small, but long-time growers can tell a Cardinal variety of berry from Flavorfest or Blakemore by taste.

“The growers said the strawberries are in full bloom; if the weather cooperates, we’ll have ripe strawberries [for the festival],” said Marty Green, OSU Extension Educator and a member of Kiwanis, the club that organizes the event.

Most growers have been bringing berries to the festival for years.

“But we have one new grower this year, Tyler Woods, a younger grower,” said Green.

Jessica Simmons will be crowned Strawberry Queen following the parade.

“The festivities have already begun with the queen contest and prince and princess contests,” said Nancy Garrett, owner of AAA Abstract and Chamber of Commerce member. “Jessica did a delightful dance routine.”

Garrett hasn’t missed a festival in years.

“I’m looking forward to the festival as always, particularly the parade,” she said. “I never miss that. I like the floats and that people put so much effort and creativity into them. And I like when we have marching bands.”

She also enjoys perusing the arts and crafts booths.

“And I enjoy having company. People come from out of town to get berries and friends like to come get them, too,” said Garrett. “My daughter, Susan [Crowley] and her husband usually cook out.”

Locals have their favorite ways of eating the berries, too.

“The best way to eat strawberries is the way Emmabelle Garrett, my kids’ grandmother, made them – with strawberries and crust,” said Garrett. “Pie crust is rolled out in a sheet and baked. You break off pieces, and eat with vanilla ice cream and berries.”

Betty Barker has been to every one of the 66 Stilwell Strawberry Festivals. Now her great-grandchildren go.

 A member of both the Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis, the retired teacher still mans the information booth on main street, in front of the county courthouse, beside the prize-winning strawberries.

“We’ve held the queen pageant and prince and princess pageant, and now the berries are in full bloom and we’re hoping to not have a late freeze,” Barker said.

She helps with the queen pageant, gets the plaques and crowns for the girls, and makes sure they have cars to ride in for the parade.

One new event that’s becoming popular is a recipe contest, with adult and youth categories.

“The desserts are auctioned off like the flats of strawberries, sometimes whole and sometimes by the slice,” said Barker. “I really enjoy all the activities and seeing people come back year after year. There are several class reunions. The Class of ‘45, my class, always gets together.”

The Wednesday before the festival is Strawberry Day at the state capitol. Volunteers take and serve berries, short cake and whipped cream for receptions in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

“Larry Adair and Herb Rozell started this tradition,” Barker said. “And we always take the [queen and her court] and some of their parents.”

Dan Collins, Kiwanis president and ICTC Stilwell director, said Barker is the backbone of the festival, and the volunteers are invaluable to the event’s success.

“That’s what makes this event possible – not just the Kiwanis, but the fire department, police department, city government. It takes a lot for a small community to put on a festival of this magnitude,” he said. “We’re bringing in bigger-name entertainment than we’ve had in the past, by booking James Wesley. And we think the outlook for berries now is very, very good. I hope people will come out and enjoy the event, and support the vendors,” Collins said.

Text Only
Local News
  • ts-Trail-show-1.jpg Jackson takes prize

    Cherokee Heritage Center Museum Curator Mickel Yantz kicked off his 10th anniversary at the venue with the opening of the 43rd annual Trail of Tears Art Show this past Friday.
    “The Trail of Tears show was my first exhibit opening when I arrived 10 years ago,” said Yantz. “Since that time, the show has changed so dramatically; we’ve added so many new artists, and the art work has excelled over time. It’s like Christmas for me.”
    Yantz said he was exceptionally pleased with the opening reception.
    “We had a fantastic turnout,” said Yantz. “We had a lot of fun and sold some artwork, which is great for opening night.”
    The exhibit is on display at the Cherokee Heritage Center through May 26. This year’s show features 130 pieces of art spanning eight different categories, including basketry, graphics, jewelry, miniature, painting, pottery and sculpture.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • churchguy.jpg Some NSU students find Church of Monett offensive

    They turn heads every time they show up on campus, and some students at Northeastern State University are offended by their presence.
    The Church of Monett, Mo., has made periodic trips to Tahlequah to stage quiet demonstrations in public campus spaces in recent years. They carry signs that read, “Wives, Obey your Husbands,”; “To be Married to the divorced is Adultery”; and “Don’t be deceived: fornicators homosexuals idolaters adulterers thieves drunkards - shall not inherit God’s Kingdom.”

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teen sent to hospital after being struck by tractor-trailer

    An 18-year-old Tahlequah man was struck by a tractor-trailer early Tuesday morning on the State Highway 51 bypass near Mimosa Lane.
    Tahlequah Police Capt. Tom Jones said officers responded to the scene at about 5:40 a.m., when Sage Sohns was found injured and lying in the road. A medical helicopter responded to the scene to transport Sohns to a Tulsa hospital, where he was being treated for a closed-head injury, police said.

    April 16, 2014

  • TPS board hears architect presentations for cafeteria

    Members of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education heard from four architectural firms seeking a contract for construction at Cherokee Elementary School.
    TPS plans to build a cafeteria-auditorium and a music room with a stage, which may also serve as a safe room during storms.

    April 16, 2014

  • Briggs.jpg Local man hit with assault, burglary charges

    Prosecutors have formally charged a Tahlequah man accused of breaking into a motel room, tying a rope around a man’s neck and stabbing him repeatedly with a syringe.
    Jimmy Dale Briggs Jr., 33, is charged with first-degree burglary, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of threatening to perform an act of violence.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boy whose mom scolded deputies in trouble again

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 15-year-old theft suspect Monday night after he allegedly assaulted his brother.
    Deputy Kim Novak said authorities were dispatched to a home and ultimately took the teen into custody. While there, they also discovered items that had been reported stolen, including a bed and several tools.
    Novak said the teen is the same boy who has previously been found to be in possession of stolen items.

    April 16, 2014

  • plane-crash-1-a.jpg Plane crash victims recovering

    Two Arkansas men remained in a Tulsa hospital Monday after the plane they were flying crashed into a wooded area in Cookson.
    According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the 1946 Ercoupe 415 crashed under “unknown circumstances” about a mile from the Tenkiller Air Park in Cookson Saturday morning.
    The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says 75-year-old John McCreary and 85-year-old Albert Demarco Jr., both of Ozark, Ark., were flown from Cookson to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • walker-terrance.jpg Man taken for blood sample confuses hospital with hotel

    Tahlequah police say an Austin, Texas, man stopped Saturday mistook a local hospital for a hotel when he was taken to have his blood drawn.
    Officer Cory Keele’s affidavit says 20-year-old Terrance Walker was driving south on Muskogee Avenue at about 2 a.m. Saturday, swerving from one line to another.
    Keele tried to stop the car near Muskogee and Chickasaw, and Walker eventually slowed to a stop near South Street.
    Walker opened the car door as Keele approached. The officer said Walker had dilated pupils.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • ennis-scottie.jpg Knife-cutting incident lands man in jail

    A Tahlequah man jailed for allegedly cutting a woman with a kitchen knife was released on a recognizance bond Monday.
    Scottie Lee Ennis, 42, was arrested after Officer Austin Yates was sent to Tahlequah City Hospital late Friday night.
    There, Yates spoke with Jennifer Pennell, who had apparently suffered a stab wound to her arm.
    Pennell told Yates she and her husband, Ennis, had gone to Dewain’s Place earlier in the evening, and while at the bar, a man bought her a drink.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • hawley-jeremy.jpg Tahlequah man bonds out after arrest for assault

    A 22-year-old Tahlequah man bonded out of jail Monday after his weekend arrest on domestic assault charges.
    Jeremy Hawley was booked into jail Sunday for domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor and interfering with a 911 call.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video