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By Ron Stahl
We anticipate it all through the month of March when the air still has a chill and we aren’t quite confident enough to unpack our short sleeves and consign the winter coat to the back of the closet. The daffodils herald its coming and when April is finally upon us we shrug off our winter blahs and embrace any excuse to get out of the house and into the light. Luckily, in Oklahoma, April is the real beginning of the festival season and some of our state’s most interesting and exciting events unfold.
April 1st brings the Medieval Fair to Norman amid a cacophony of flutes, lutes, and the clashing of not-so-dangerous swords. The serious history buffs don their armor and fight it out on the field of honor as they live out a Middle Ages fantasy. Strolling royalty mingles with mermaids, jesters, and courtesans while the rest of us watch and feast on our smoked turkey legs.
In Muskogee, the annual Azalea Festival ushers in April with a burst of brightly colored blooms in Honor Heights Park. While the Medieval Fair is gone in a weekend, the Azalea Festival is a month-long affair. The festivity and fun begins with an arts and crafts show, April 2nd & 3rd, and continues with a chili and barbecue festival, and a powwow later in the month. April also brings the Bare Bones International Film Festival to Muskogee, April 17-24.
April 2, Idabel also celebrates April flowers, but it is a Dogwood Days Festival instead. The Idabel area is home to thousands of the snowy blossomed trees.
In the second week of April, the sidewalks of the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma at Chickasha come alive with brilliant and temporary works of art. The Montmartre Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival on April 7, invites hundreds of artists to claim a square and fill it with original artwork using only water-based, temporary chalk. The creations are short-lived, but long on creativity.
The middle of April in western Oklahoma is time for one of the state’s most storied events, the Cimarron Territorial Celebration & Cow Chip Throwing Contest, April 9-16, in Beaver. There is a lot crammed into that week, a parade, a chili cook-off, a chuck wagon feed, and, of course, the cow chip tossing competition. Don’t look for cow chips in the grocery store-search out a pasture. But only gather up the dry ones. Then shape them to be aerodynamically perfect, take them to Beaver and give it your best shot. If you want to skip the gathering part, they also furnish them to contestants.
April 15-21, Woodward hosts the lesser Prairie Chicken Festival. The endangered and quickly disappearing fowl is the subject of field trips, workshops, and viewing opportunities, but the festival also includes, art, geo-caching, and stargazing. Bird lovers will certainly be able to add to their life lists at this event.
April 15-16, The Green Frog Festival brings arts, crafts, and storytelling to Wilburton. Before you get too excited about amphibian adulation, the Green Frog was a Wilburton café where everybody hung out to drink coffee and, yes, tell stories. There is also live music, arts and crafts, and a quilt show amid the beautiful scenery of the Sans Bois Mountains.
Arts festivals abound in April; Stillwater Arts Festival, April 16 & 17, Arts & Crafts Fest in Walters on April 23, and the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, April 26-May 1.
And finally, to close out April, let’s go back to Norman where we began this festival feast. The Norman Music festival brings more than a hundred bands and thousands of music lovers downtown, April 28-30.
So April comes in with the clashing of swords and goes out with a song. What a glorious way to welcome in spring.
You can find information on all the festivals and events in April on the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department website, TravelOK.com.