Tahlequah’s Red Fern Festival set for April 28

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/18/2018 04:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A boy lets his hound dog wade in Town Branch Creek in Tahlequah during the Red Fern Festival in 2007. MUSKOGEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Musicians, food trucks, a kids’ zone, a vintage plane fly-in, coon hunt, car show and art in the downtown square are all part of this year’s Red Fern Festival.

The festival honors the story “Where the Red Fern Grows,” which was written by Cherokee Nation citizen Woodrow Wilson Rawls from nearby Scraper. The book was published in 1961 and was adapted into a movie that was released in 1974. A second movie based on Rawls’ book was released in 2003.

The original movie will be shown at 8 p.m. on April 27 in Norris Park.

“Where the Red Fern Grows” is about a boy who buys and trains two redbone coon-hunting dogs in the Ozark hills of northeastern Oklahoma. The movie follows the boy as he competes in coon-hunting contests and other adventures with his dogs. Both movies were shot in and around the Tahlequah area with Rawls serving as a consultant for the first movie.

Rawls was born on Sept. 24, 1913, in Scraper on his Cherokee mother Winnie (Hatfield) Rawls’ allotment land. His father Minzy Rawls took the family west during the Great Depression that caused economic hardship for people in the 1930s. Woodrow Wilson Rawls’ papers are located at the Cherokee Heritage Center.

In honor of the hound dogs in Rawls’ story, hound dog field trials will take place at 10 a.m. on April 28 in Sequoyah Park. Also, on April 28, several antique and ex-military planes will fly into the city’s airport west of town and will be joined by model planes exhibits, static displays from the military and emergency services as well as an antique tractor display.

City officials said they have a bigger role in this year’s Red Fern Festival.

“The city has always supported these type of events by the Tahlequah Main Street Association, but this year we’re trying to enhance the festival with the addition of the events located at our airport,” Tahlequah Public Relations Specialist Jami Murphy said.

The festival is still seeking vendors in arts and crafts and food. If interested, visit www.tahlequahmainstreet.com for more information or for a complete list of events and times.

“Honestly, there are so many things for you and your family to do during the week and weekend of Red Fern. You just don’t want to miss any of it,” Murphy said.

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