Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 2, 2012

Red Fern Fest draws record attendance

TAHLEQUAH — Mother Nature threatened to dampen spirits of attendees at this year’s Red Fern Festival but held back, providing only cloud cover and moderate temperatures throughout the weekend.

Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director Kate Kelly said she couldn’t be more pleased with this year’s event, and that the threat of possible bad weather had no influence on attendance.

“Since we don’t charge admission, there’s no way to finitely quantify [attendance],” said Kelly. “But after talking to local firefighters and food vendors, who seem to have an accurate read when it comes to crowds, we’re estimating we had about 6,000 to 8,000 people this year. We feel it was a success.”

The sixth annual Red Fern Festival stretched from the base of the campus at Northeastern State University south to just beyond the Cherokee Courthouse Square.

Weekend events included a Friday-night showing of the “Where The Red Fern Grows,” based on the novel by Wilson Rawls, about a boy and his Redbone coon-hunting dogs growing up in the Tahlequah.

A statue of “Billy,” the main character in the novel, stands in the middle of Norris Park, where the movie was shown Friday night.

“Seeing all the people in Norris Park Friday night for the movie was incredible,” said Kelly. “I think all of Tahlequah was there, along with part of the rest of the state.”

Kelly had an opportunity to watch some of the children’s events this year, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

“There are so many different aspects to the festival,” said Kelly. “I loved watching the kids around the crawdad hole. I got to see the children’s games for the first time this year, and what I thought was so wonderful was that there weren’t just little kids, but teenagers taking part in sack races and jumping rope.”

The festival touts its family friendliness, and Kelly said this year was no different.

“We saw so many families out enjoying themselves, which is what we hoped for,” said Kelly. “The music was excellent, the smell of barbecue smoke was in the air. I’m truly happy with the way things turned out.”

Mayor Jason Nichols attended several of the festival events, and agreed with Kelly about the crowd turnout.

“We had more than ever before this year,” said Nichols. “Everyone was well-behaved, and it went off without a hitch.”

One of the favorite events is the Chamber’s Leadership Tahlequah Duck Race. According to Mary Kay Masters-Jobe, this event also had record participation. Attendees could purchase a rubber duck for $5.

Purchased ducks were rounded up on the west end of the Town Branch creek, and floated – or raced – to the finish line at the bridge behind The Branch restaurant, right before reaching Muskogee Avenue.

“We had 951 ducks in this year’s race,” said Masters-Jobe. “I know we sold more than in previous years, and I don’t think we lost a single duck.”

Cash prizes were awarded to the first three finishers, which included Melanie Stopp, first place, $300; Lauren Monroe, second place, $150; and Patti Morton, third place, $50.

Most would agree, a successful festival must include food, and this year’s attendees had plenty to choose from, including the Kiwanis Club Chili Cookoff. Tasting kits could be purchased for $5.

“This year, we had 11 teams entered, but they all participated in a number of categories, from chili to barbecue to best church cooking,” said Patti Morton. “We raised close to $6,000 for Kiwanis, which funds children’s interests. You smell the barbecue in the air, and it just brings people down.”

Morton believes a charity event held in conjunction with Red Fern was key to its success this year.

“I think this year, it was especially important they had Help-In-Crisis’ Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event,” said Morton. “You get 350 men in high heels who bring their families down, and well, that really makes a difference.”

Categories and winners for the Chili Cookoff and Barbecue Extravaganza are listed.

• Crowd-Pleasing Barbecue: First place, Roxie’s Barbecue; second place, Sweet Willies Barbecue; and third place, The Soul Shack.

• Crowd-Pleasing Chili: First place, Sweet Willies chili; second place, First Baptist Church; and third place, Ace High Hospitality.

• Community Servants Challenge: First place, Hope Hospice; and second place, Go Ye Village.

• Best Booth Challenge: First place, Sweet Willies Barbecue; second place, Ace High Hospitality; and third place, Hope Hospice.

• Best Church Cooks: First place, First Baptist Church.

This year’s Red Fern Festival also featured the 5C’s 25th Anniversary Car Show. According to President Mitchell DuVall, they, too, had a record number of entries.

“We awarded first- and second-place trophies in 37 categories, and had over 200 vehicles around the [Cherokee Courthouse] Square this year,” said DuVall. “We seem to grow every year, and are really happy with the turnout.”

Specialty trophies included: Best of Show, Robert Flippen, 1923 Studebaker touring car; Mayor’s Trophy, Larry Smith, 2007 Corvette; Chamber’s Choice, Cotton Hamby, 1957 Ford Anglia; and 5C’s 25th Anniversary Trophy, Mitchell York, 1933 Chrysler.

Kelly thanked all the volunteers, and is already beginning the planning phase for next year’s festival.

“Without the people who volunteered time and energy, this literally could not have happened,” said Kelly. “This is not hyperbole, this is solid truth.”

Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Moore appreciates the work of Kelly and Tahlequah Main Street Director Drew Haley.

“I just want to send out a special thank you for the hard work and dedication to Kate Kelly and Drew Haley for putting together such a successful festival,” said Moore.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • SR-WalkaMile1.jpg Walk a Mile 2014

    Men squeezed into feminine footwear Saturday by the hundreds to walk in solidarity with women on the issue of sexual violence – and their clop-clop-clopping echoed down Muskogee Avenue.
    The fourth annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” brought men to Norris Park, accompanied by their enthusiastic female supporters, to walk – and often wobble – in high heels over a mile-long course to raise funds for Help-In-Crisis.
    “It hurts every year,” said John Christie, a Sequoyah High School student participating in his third Walk a Mile. “I get home, sit down, blisters come up and the calves hurt. But it is worth it. It’s for a good cause.”

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • adams-christopher.jpg Michigan man gets 13 years on plea to rape, sodomy of girl

    A 28-year-old Michigan man will spend about 13 years in an Oklahoma state prison after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of sodomy involving a 13-year-old girl.
    Christopher Dale Adams, of Lake Orion, Mich., received a 13-year prison sentence for each of the five charges, to be followed by seven years suspended. All sentences will run concurrently.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • logan-amy.jpg Police take down pair on pot distribution charge

    Tahlequah police officers arrested a pair Sunday night for allegedly possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
    Tahlequah Officer Cody Warren said police were asked to investigate when 35-year-old Amy N. Logan, of Tahlequah, allegedly took a family member’s car without permission.
    While Warren was speaking with the owners of the vehicle, Logan arrived along with 26-year-old Theoplilus James Mollie, of Tulsa.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • land-lisa.jpg Two nailed with meth, pot hidden in bag of chips

    Two people were arrested early Monday morning when Tahlequah police stopped a vehicle near Basin Avenue and found methamphetamine and marijuana hidden in a bag of chips.
    Tahlequah Officer Cory Keele said he noticed a Nissan heading north on Park Hill Road, and the vehicle later stopped in an intersection.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • gawf-johnny.jpg Nylon case doesn’t fool deputy; drug charges to be filed

    A Tahlequah man is jailed at the Cherokee County Detention Center after being arrested on drug possession charges.
    Deputy Michael Cates stopped Johnny Lee Gawf, 25, near Stick Ross Mountain Road and U.S. Highway 62. Gawf did not have his driver’s license and had a no-bond warrant for failure to pay.
    When Gawf was asked to step out of his vehicle, he allegedly reached into a pocket and pulled out a black nylon case, which he claimed to be a pocket knife. Gawf sat the case in the seat of the vehicle.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-CN-citizenship.jpg Dual citizenship still OK for tribes

    It’s been almost a year since the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma was forced to close its casino, leaving about 150 members without jobs.
    Right before the operations was shuttered, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker offered a plan to absorb UKB employees, scheduling three employment registration meetings in September 2013.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • TPS to hold graduation at Doc Wadley, after all

    A letter obtained by the Tahlequah Daily Press states that graduation exercises for the Tahlequah High School Class of 2014 will be held at Doc Wadley Stadium on May 23.
    Tahlequah Public Schools received an invitation from the city and Northeastern State University to hold the graduation ceremony inside the NSU multipurpose event center, and the district was initially agreeable. But the necessity of limiting invitations to 10 or 15 per student because of seating concerns drew heavy criticism from seniors and parents.

    April 22, 2014

  • Woman allegedly went after relative, then cop

    Deputies say a 22-year-old woman assaulted a family member Saturday, then attacked an officer when he tried to arrest her.
    Deputy Bryan Qualls was sent to investigate the domestic disturbance at Hilltop Circle. Donna Wilder, the alleged victim, told Qualls that the suspect, Kaylynn Sharp, was hiding in the garage, and had struck her in the face several times.

    April 22, 2014

  • jn-city-pool.jpg City of Tahlequah progressing on bond projects

    Just more than a year after the city began collecting a sales tax funds for use on capital improvements, crews continue to work toward finishing several of the projects.
    “We’re going to deliver everything we said we would,” Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols said Friday.
    The $21-million-plus bond issue approved in 2013 includes about $10 million worth of street projects. South Muskogee Avenue will eventually be widened into a five-lane stretch; East Fourth Street’s widening project is underway; and West Fourth will become, at least in part, a three-lane road.
    Projects will also focus on parts of North Grand, East Allen, Bluff, Crafton, and North Cedar.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall-dustin.jpg Four men charged with burglary

    Four local men are facing burglary and stolen-property charges in Cherokee County District Court.
    Prosecutors have charged the four men with second-degree burglary and knowingly concealing stolen property.

    April 21, 2014 3 Photos

Poll

How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Stocks