Celebrate a sense of community this spring in the middle of “Native America.” Base yourself in Oklahoma City (OKC) for a week or two to attend the local festivals crowded onto the region’s spring calendar. What follows is a brief sampling of the diverse activities and attractions, but be sure to check the Oklahoma tourism website for a full list.
Southwest Street Rod Nationals rumbles into town April 15-17 and features Oklahoma’s largest gathering of pre-1949 autos and street rods. Enjoy auto exhibits, vendor booths, a swap meet, children’s games and much more throughout the weekend.
The Festival of the Arts, known as OKC’s annual “rite of spring,” celebrates the visual, culinary and performing arts. From April 26 to May 1 you can see works by more than 140 artists (including a kinetic art exhibit and sculpture park) and sample international cuisine as street performers entertain the crowds. If that’s not enough, the First Friday Gallery Walk on May 6 offers art openings, wine tastings and live music in the Paseo Arts District from 6-10 p.m.
Mosey over to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum to gaze at heroic-sized Western art, exhibition galleries and historical displays. Round up the family for the museum’s Chuck Wagon Gathering & Children’s Cowboy Festival, slated for May 28-29. This popular event includes mouth-watering food, stage shows, Western music performances, kids crafts, wagon rides and other fun activities for the whole family.
Stroll through the Will Rogers Park & Garden Center (open year-round) amid cacti, succulents, roses, azaleas, peonies and daylilies. The Arboretum includes native trees and exotic varieties rarely found in Oklahoma. The park also includes picnic tables, a senior center, tennis center and Family Aquatic Center.
Join the locals at the 89er Days Celebration commemorating the Land Run of 1889 that established this town that served as the territorial capital. The celebration runs from April 26-30 and features a chuck wagon feed, 89er Parade, vendor booths, arts and crafts displays, the 89er Rodeo and more. Take a trolley tour of downtown Guthrie to marvel at the largest Historic Preservation District in the U.S., full of Victorian-era buildings.
Grab a seat and watch the future cowboys and cowgirls ride and wrangle at the Heart of America Youth Rodeo Finals in Guthrie, May 6-8. With all that inspiration you may be in need of some custom-made cowboy boots; several shops in the OKC area can oblige.
Located where Route 66 crosses the Chisholm Trail, this historic town is famous for its onion burgers. Bite into one at the Fried Onion Burger Day Festival on May 7 and you’ll find out why! On May 14 the annual Fort Reno Candlelight Tour transports visitors back in time with re-enactors portraying life from 1874 to the present.
The small town of Prague (pop. 2,500) celebrates Bohemian culture with polka music, dancing, food, Czech costumes, a parade, and other entertainment during the Prague Kolache Festival, also scheduled for May 7 this year. Bring your appetite to try several varieties of kolache, a traditional sweet bread filled with fruit.
For complete information on events and attractions, visit the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department website, www.travelok.com.
This article featured in the April 2011 issue of the Trailer Life email newsletter.