Tahlequah will soon welcome thousands of guests to celebrate the story of a simpler time and the spirit of Oklahoma’s Green Country.

The Red Fern Festival will take place in downtown Tahlequah on Friday and Saturday with activities, vendors and shows throughout the weekend.

Every year the annual festival includes multiple music performances, checkers and horseshoe tournaments, and the Kiwanis Barbecue and Chili Cook-Off.

There is also a simulated coon hunt in honor of the famous book, “Where The Red Fern Grows,” which is the inspiration for the festival.

The festival has grown exponentially every year.

“There’s a zip line for crying out loud,” said Tahlequah Main Street Association Director Drew Haley. “It’s just going to be bigger.”

Haley said Muskogee Avenue will be closed downtown to let people walk around the festival grounds without worrying about vehicle traffic.

He said some may view closing the streets down as a negative for this year’s festival.

“The positive is it’s allowed us to bring in more vendors and it allows everyone to walk around downtown and go in the shops that usually are overlooked at festivals,” said Haley.

More vendors in a larger area means a less crowded festival and more space can be given to other aspects, like the Relay for Life dunk tank, the Red Fern Pageant and the inflatables that will fill Norris Park.

Ricochet gives a concert on Friday at 6 p.m. at the rodeo grounds. Admission is free for those who find tickets. Attendees can learn the ticket locations by listening to Lakes Country 102.1. Tickets will cost $20 at the door.

There are also events at the Dream Theater throughout the weekend.

“Where the Red Fern Grows” screens twice on Friday in the theater at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

From 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. the Dream will host storytellers sharing their craft with festival attendees.

On Saturday, the Dream will host Olen Davis and the Travelers, and Skillbillies, for a concert at 7 p.m.

The 5C’s 28th annual classic car show is behind the Cherokee National Capitol Square.

Jon Edwards, 5C’s president, said people can talk to the car owners and “take a trip down memory lane.”

Registration is 8 a.m. – noon on Saturday, and trophies are awarded at 3 p.m.

“This is a classic car, truck and motorcycle show, so there should be something for everyone,” said Edwards. “They’ll get a chance to see some unique cars.”

First- and second-place trophies will be awarded in 32 categories ranging from “best in show” to “mayor’s choice.”

Custom, classic and muscle cars from car clubs throughout the area will be part of the show, and Haley said Edwards and 5C’s has been working on putting together the show for a long time.

“Don’t miss it, you’ll be sorry you did,” said Haley.

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