From crispy Indian tacos to down-home soul food, tap into the state of deliciousness by sampling fares at these taste-inspired events and festivals.
Over the years, native roots, prairie sensibilities and a deep appreciation for good food have led Oklahomans to rustle up edible happenings across the state guaranteed to romance taste buds and titillate foodies. From crispy Indian tacos at the National Indian Taco Championship in downtown Pawhuska to creamy cheeses at the Watonga Cheese & Wine Festival, culinary variety combined with music, art and entertainment pack a punch at festive events.
There’s no more bona fide Oklahoma chow than Indian tacos, a universal food at American Indian powwows and festivals across the state. Indian tacos start with Indian fry bread, made from flour, salt, baking powder and water, shaped into plate-size rounds and fried to golden perfection. The fry bread is then topped with a combination of beans or ground beef, chopped lettuce, sliced tomato, shredded cheddar cheese and optional salsa or green chili. Roll up the whole shebang, chow down and let the juice dribble down your chin. It’s the only way to experience this taco’s totally righteous sensation.
The National Indian Taco Championship in Pawhuska takes this authentic treat to the next level, offering the chance to watch contestants from across the nation compete to create the best Indian taco and dessert fry-bread taco. In addition to hearty eats, this annual one-day contest, also features Indian dancing, bands and other live entertainment. For a mere $5, visitors get the chance to be a preliminary judge and sample all the food.
“People really enjoy trying all the tacos because everyone makes them a little different, and too, people just love getting together,” said Jackie McCann, Osage tribal member and event organizer.
Get in touch with the heart of soul food at the Dr. Martin Luther King Soul Food Cook-Off in Muskogee in mid-January. Dedicated to reaching out to communities and showcasing unknown cooks, the annual competition also educates about the origin of soul food, which is rooted in African-American history. Sweet potato pie, beans and ham hocks, pork roast and smoked turkey are some of the favorite foods. The chart topper is lip-smacking homemade macaroni and cheese, said competition director Cassandra Gaines.
Speaking of food events with history, the Frederick Fantastic Oyster Fry and Craft Show, held the third Saturday of each February, got its start in 1952. Nowadays, the festival is a marvel of dedicated freshness and operational efficiency. Members of the oyster fry task force drive to Port Lavaca on the Texas Gulf Coast on Thursday and hit the docks Friday morning for the pick of the oyster catch, which is shucked, iced and then driven directly to Frederick for breading and frying at the big event.
Eating the oysters, whether raw or fried, with or without sauce (both the oyster breading and sauce are secret recipes), is the highlight of the event, says Sharon Bennett, executive director of the Frederick Chamber. “Not only are you getting some of the freshest and sweetest oysters you can get anywhere, there is so much to see and do in Frederick that a visit to Frederick’s oyster fry makes a great day trip or even weekend getaway,” Bennett said.
Food festivals illustrate various aspects of Oklahoma’s diverse roots, culture and history, so if you find yourself hankering for some down-home goodness, check out one of these four festivals: The Tumbleweed Calf Fry Festival in Stillwater, El Reno’s Fried Onion Burger Day Festival, the Prague Kolache Festival, and the Watonga Cheese & Wine Festival. But we haven't even scratched the surface of all the delicious festivals just waiting to serve you up a good time in Oklahoma. To peruse them all, use the comprehensive festival and event search form and select food events.