Chamber Planning Three Days of Fun Activities, Music and Great Barbecue
The Pecan Festival returns to downtown Okmulgee June 8 through June 10, and lots of fun activities are being planned.
Pecan Festival Committee Co-chairmen Shannon Prescott and Clint Wilson say plans call for favorites from last year to return, along with new features this year.
“Of course, the carnival will be here, along with food trucks, arts and crafts vendors, musical entertainment, and the Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned barbecue competition,” says Prescott. “But we’re bringing some new things to this year’s event.”
“The festival opens Thursday evening with popular KOTV Meteorologist Travis Meyer,” says Wilson. “He will be broadcasting from the Festival. Thursday evening is also Wristband Night at the carnival where those who purchased wristbands can ride until the carnival closes at 11 p.m. And hometown favorite Brent Giddens will be entertaining at a street dance, so we’re inviting everyone to bring their lawn chairs and dancing shoes and come and join the fun.”
Prescott and Wilson go on to say renown stunt rider Cody Elkins is returning and will be performing Friday and Saturday. He will be available for autographs and photos, and fans can buy his T-shirts as well.
Saturday will be an entire day of fun activities. The morning begins with the return of the turtle races, and youngsters will also want to bring their pets downtown for the Pet Parade, which is new this year.
“The Lions Club will be operating the turtle races and the Rotary Club is sponsoring the Pet Parade,” explains Prescott. “We are delighted these organizations are partnering with us this year!”
The Lions Club is also bringing the Oklahoma Lions Service Foundation’s mobile health unit. In addition to offering a variety of medical screenings, the unit offers vision screenings for kids. It will be available all three days of the festival.
A 5K fun run is in the works also. It will begin Saturday morning at the YMCA and end on 7th Street near the Orpheum. Wilson says once the details are finalized, registration forms will be available at the Chamber office and on the Chamber’s website - www.okmulgeechamber.org.
A new feature to this year’s Pecan Festival is the pecan cooking contest. Sponsored by Bill and Danna Martin, owners of Tree Top Pecans, the competition is open to anyone. There are two divisions for competing: the Junior division which is open to students up to the 12th grade; and the Adult division which is open to anyone 18 years old and out of high school. The winner in each category will receive $100. Second and third place winners will receive a ribbon and gift certificate. Competition rules and regulations are also available at the Chamber office and on the website.
Another new feature is the 6x6 Art Show sponsored by Okmulgee Main Street’s Design Committee. “The theme this year is simply ‘pecans,’” says Design Committee Chairperson Julie Roberds. “We are encouraging artists to use their imaginations and design anything pecan-related.” The canvasses can be purchased for $6 each at the Main Street office at 100 E. 6th. The completed entries must be returned to the Main Street office no later than end of business Friday, June 2.
Also returning this year is the Ribs & Roll Barbecue Competition, but this year’s event is a two-day competition. Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, participants will compete for prize money and points. First day of the competition is Saturday, June 9, and the second day is Sunday, June 10. Although the competitors’ entries are strictly for judging, several of the competitors have agreed to cook for Tasters’ Kits that will be for sale Saturday.
A new feature to the competition is Barbecue 101. Some of the award-winning cooks will be holding short, informal sessions where they will share their expertise in barbecuing and grilling. “These sessions are designed for the backyard barbecue chef who simply wants to improve his or her skills,” explains Wilson. There is no cost for the Barbecue 101 sessions.
Okmulgee’s Fraternal Order of Police are sponsoring a “Kids Safety Zone” where they will have a Police cruiser and fire truck on hand for kids to see. Police officers and fire fighters will be on hand to visit with the kids too.
What is sure to be a popular event in the safety zone is a dunk tank sponsored by the FOP. Police officer Tim Harkrider says local celebrities and community leaders have agreed to sit in the tank while festival goers pay to try to dunk them.
Friday and Saturday evenings offer two bands each night who will entertain festival goers. Prescott and Wilson say people can sit and listen, or dance the evening away. They point out there is no cost for the concerts, which will take place in the parking lot at 7th and Morton, just east of the Orpheum.
Wilson and Prescott point out that due to the Council House renovation project, the arts and crafts vendors, and the Chamber’s booth are all being moved out onto the streets. Arts and crafts vendors will be on Grand Ave. between 6th and 7th Streets, while the food trucks, the beer garden and tent will be on Morton Ave. between 6th and 7th Streets. Chamber Executive Director Kay Rabbitt-Brower says the Chamber is still accepting applications for arts and crafts vendors and entries for the barbecue competition.
“The fee to have a booth in the arts and crafts area is $100,” says Rabbitt-Brower. “We have a special rate of $75 for Chamber members, also.”
The Chamber booth will be located in front of the Arlington Building on 6th Street between Morton and Grand Avenues.
“The Chamber will be selling the official Pecan Festival T-shirts, Koozies, and bottled water, along with serving as the source of information about the festival,” explains Prescott. “We will also be serving barbecue sandwiches complete with chips and a soft drink in the Chamber’s food truck.”
“We are still working to finalize some details, but we want the community to know we’ve been working hard to make sure this is a fun event,” says Wilson. “We are proud of Okmulgee and want both residents and visitors to feel the sense of ‘community’ Okmulgee offers.”
Wilson and Prescott want to remind everyone there is still time to sign up to volunteer during the Pecan Festival. “This is certainly a volunteer-driven event, and we have a lot of fun opportunities for anyone wanting to volunteer,” says Prescott.
Anyone with questions about the Pecan Festival is encouraged to contact the Chamber of Commerce at 918-756-6172 or drop by the office at 112 N. Morton. Information, vendor applications, and barbecue entry forms can be found on the Chamber’s website at www.okmulgeechamber.org.