Cherokee storytelling part of Wonder City Coffee’s schedule

Senior Reporter
03/27/2019 08:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Choogie Kingfisher is among the Native artisans who have been invited to share their talents at Wonder City Coffee in Locust Grove. The shop recently received a Governor’s Arts Award. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee storyteller Sequoyah Guess is among the Native artists who are invited to Wonder City Coffee in Locust Grove. Guess told stories during the “Tellabration” on the shop’s opening night. COURTESY
LOCUST GROVE – For more than two years, an artsy coffee shop has brought art in a big way to this small town’s main street.

Art events at Wonder City Coffee span a gamut and include visits by Cherokee storytellers. Owners Kelly and Mark Palmer are not Cherokee, but enthusiastically include a Native art form of special significance to many locals.

“When we decided we wanted to open a business in downtown Locust Grove, our first criterion was that it needed to be community based, something that would bring people downtown,” Kelly said. “We have partnered with the Locust Grove Arts Alliance since our opening weekend when we hosted Cherokee storyteller Sequoyah Guess to a packed house. We have continued to host many art, poetry, music and storytelling related events in the past two-and-a-half years that have been well attended, and have provided our community a place to gather and create.”

The Palmers are assisted in their efforts to support the arts by Kelly’s sisters, Roxann Yates and Shaun Perkins. Perkins works in the coffee shop, is a poet and runs the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry in Locust Grove. She is also webmaster for

“I’ve been a poet all my life,” Perkins said. “The storytelling came about around the same time I met a group of women who were into myths. They told stories of these myths, and it was then that I found the storytellers, whom I’ve been around since about 1984.”

The shop began its association with the arts with its first, and now annual, Wonder City Tellabration, which features Native storytelling.

“When we first opened, storytelling is what we did that first night,” Perkins said. “Sequoyah was our special guest, and there were also people in the audience who told stories. It is an important art. It is great for this area and the people to come in and hear stories that ancestors have passed down to storytellers about them and their history.”

The Palmers’ efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Oklahoma Arts Council included Wonder City Coffee among its Governor’s Arts Awards honorees that will be recognized in a ceremony on April 16 in the Oklahoma Capitol. A reception follows in the first floor rotunda outside the Betty Price Gallery. Admission is free and open to the public.

Wonder City Coffee is the 2019 Business in the Arts award recipient. The business has allowed use of its space for meetings of the LGAA, sponsored performances by the Tulsa Youth Ballet at a local middle school and pushed for a National Endowment for the Arts’ “Big Read” community grant.

“I am pleased to congratulate the 2019 Governor’s Arts Award honorees who come from all across our great state,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt in a release. “I look forward to celebrating our honorees’ contributions to the arts in Oklahoma and recognizing their role in fostering a robust and impactful arts industry in our state.”

Palmer said the award was an honor and that the success of Wonder City Coffee is enhanced by the LGAA, which she called an indispensable community asset.

“We look forward to many more years of continuing to support the arts and serving community by the cup,” Palmer said.

People can visit Wonder City Coffee at 118 E. Main St. in Locust Grove. Call 918-479-2885, or go to
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