From music festivals to rodeo competitions, community celebrations to Fourth of July spectacles, these beloved events from all over the state provide a glimpse into what Oklahoma summers are all about.
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Whether you like to get active in the sun or relax in the evening breeze, these exciting events have plenty to offer everyone. Community and cultural festivals keep important traditions alive, while the state’s unique and thrilling music festivals highlight talented artists from across the state. Rodeos and Fourth of July celebrations are just plain fun for the whole family, and summer’s food events will satisfy any appetite.
Immerse yourself in the energy of Native American culture as over a thousand dancers and artists descend upon Shawnee during the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival, an inspiring intertribal gathering held each year. You’ll get lost in the whirl of ceremonial feathers, beads and regalia as dancers from Northern and Southern tribes come together to compete in the prestigious dancing competition. The incredible variety of both traditional and contemporary artworks will astound as you move through the exhibits featuring some of today’s most celebrated Native American artists.
Bring a little bit of class and a whole lot of fun to your summer with a visit to the OK Mozart Festival in Bartlesville. This prestigious event brings together a wide variety of talented classical musicians as well as excellent jazz, pops and Broadway artists. Great food, fascinating lectures and a variety of children’s activities make OK Mozart a fun, exciting event you don’t want to miss.
Grab the kids and head to Vinita to sample one of ranch culture’s finest delicacies at the World’s Largest Calf Fry. This Vinita summer tradition is over 30 years old and when you taste the calf fries—cooked up by teams competing for the People’s Choice prize—you’ll see why it’s become so popular. Browse the many arts and crafts booths, listen to live music and take some time to relax in the sunshine at this delightful annual tradition.
Get your groove on in the warm Norman breeze at the legendary Jazz in June festival. This popular music event gets the whole town hopping with a full roster of jazz, blues, rock and funk bands playing at different venues over three nights. Watch headliners kick out the jams as you mingle with the crowd, enjoy a cold beverage, pop into intimate venues for a variety of indie acts and sample some tasty treats from local food vendors.
If rooting around in dark underwater holes with your bare hands looking for the biggest catfish you can find sounds like your kind of deal, you just might be an Oklahoman. Don’t worry though – you don’t even have to get your feet wet to enjoy the off-kilter fun of the Okie Noodling Tournament held in Pauls Valley. Bring the kids and you’re in for a serious dose of down-home summer fun. Stay awhile to listen to some great live music, eat plenty of catfish and see who ends up the big winner at the final weigh-in.
Can you think of a better way to spend a relaxing June weekend than surrounded by the stunning trees and waterways of Beavers Bend State Park? Celebrate Choctaw Country’s beautiful landscape, industry and community at the Kiamichi Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest, a grand and long-running celebration near Broken Bow. Watch old-fashioned forestry and lumberjack competitions like the ax-throw and log rolling, pick up a unique painting at the festival’s art show or just take some time to rejuvenate in these stunning, picturesque surroundings.
No one celebrates Independence Day quite like Edmond, Oklahoma, home to one of the top ten July 4th celebrations in the country according to both CNN and USAToday. This year, experience Libertyfest for yourself as patriotic enthusiasm sweeps through the streets of Edmond during a whole week chock full of festivities. A car show, a pageant, a rodeo, a food festival, a parade and, of course, one of the most spectacular fireworks shows in that state, makes Libertyfest an event you’re not going to forget.
One of Oklahoma’s longest running festivals, the Blackberry Festival is a great excuse to play, eat, laugh and showcase the rich community life of the town of McCloud. Make your gleeful way through the delicious waves of blackberry pies, cobblers, sodas and teas, or, if you’re looking for something without seeds, try some of the many food vendors serving up savory festival favorites. You can also burn off some calories in a rousing sack race. Stick around to see the festivities come to a close with a dramatic flair under a star-spangled fireworks show.
Watch as one of the largest free fireworks displays in the country illuminates the Tulsa skyline during the long-running FreedomFest celebration. Set up a picnic spot along the Arkansas River this 4th of July and enjoy the festival atmosphere as live music plays, food vendors serve up delicious treats, and friends and family wait together for the big show to start. Don’t miss out on this astonishing display of light and music that is sure to thrill both kids and adults alike.
This land is your land and this land was home to folk legend Woody Guthrie. Born in Okemah, Guthrie revolutionized folk music during the Great Depression and now "WoodyFest” tries to do the same in his honor. Having featured legendary folk artists like Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott in the past, you can count on this five-day festival to feature the very best. Dodge the heat by tucking into indoor music venues during the day and when the sun sets, cool off in the breeze during outdoor performances under that “endless skyway” Woody so often sang about.
Put on your best boots and scoot into Pawhuska this July for a great time at the world’s largest amateur rodeo. While you may be thinking of just another rodeo competition, this cavalcade is a full-scale, old-fashioned shindig celebrating cowboy culture in all its forms. You’ll witness wild horse racing, bareback bronc riding, team roping and many more rodeo fixtures, but you’ll also see a parade, feast on some fine grub and dance the night away under the stars each night.
Who doesn’t love a sweet, juicy slice of watermelon on a hot summer day? Well, you can get your fill and much more this August at the Rush Springs Watermelon Festival, one of Oklahoma’s most popular summertime events. After devouring endless slices from numerous watermelon varieties, stick around for an entire festival that features loads of carnival rides, stage shows and something every self-respecting watermelon festival needs: a seed-spitting contest.