By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: June 2010
Brian On-The-Hill, projects specialist for Muscogee (Creek) Nation Tourism & Recreation, encourages everyone to join the celebration of their culture at the 36th annual Muscogee (Creek) Nation Festival, June 24-27.
The Muscogee (Creek) people are characterized by their strength and resilience, their solid roots in spirituality, family and culture, and their strong sense of humor and vitality. They invite everyone to celebrate their rich culture with them at the 36th annual Muscogee (Creek) Nation Festival, June 24-27 at the Claude Cox Omniplex in Okmulgee. “This is a very exciting event for us because it brings the Muscogee (Creek) people together from several states – it has a real family reunion atmosphere,” says Brian On-The-Hill, projects specialist for Muscogee (Creek) Nation Tourism & Recreation. “The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Pum Estvlke – Our People.’ We welcome everyone to join us in the celebration of our people, our existence.”
The official festival weekend kicks off with a ceremonial Stomp Dance on Thursday, June 24 at 7:30 p.m. “The opening ceremony is part of our traditional religion,” explains Brian. “It is an amazing sight. And if you don’t understand what’s going on, please feel free to ask someone.”
The activities continue throughout the weekend and include cultural demonstrations, an All-Indian rodeo, concerts featuring local and national acts, a parade, sports tournaments, traditional games, arts and crafts, food vendors, storytelling, a children’s fun fair, an art market, and much, much more. All events are free.
One of the festival’s biggest draws in the past has been the entertainment lineup, and that will certainly be the case this year as well. Taking the stage on Saturday at 9 p.m. is one of the most successful groups to record for Motown, The Temptations, performing their large array of Billboard number-one hits. You also won’t want to miss country musician Randy Houser on Friday at 9 p.m., and Jamie Coon, a Seminole-Muscogee and Oklahoma native, who promises a rousing soul-pop performance on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Many people are excited about the return of the All-Indian Rodeo, which has been absent from the festival for the past two years, due to sanctioning problems. With the help of members of other tribal nations, the Arrington-McSpadden All-Indian Rodeo Association was developed, allowing MCN to host a sanctioned All-Indian Rodeo. It is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 25-26.
Fun and games will abound at the festival. One of the most popular traditional games is the corn stalk shoot, in which contestants must use hand-made bows and wear traditional clothes in order to participate. Also taking place will be sports tournaments, including softball, golf, volleyball and basketball, as well as a Junior Olympics for children. “This festival is a celebration of both traditional Muscogee culture and contemporary Muscogee life,” says Brian.
The festival is also the perfect event for families. Kids will love the fun fair, featuring carnival rides, inflatables, arts and crafts, and games. Another favorite of the youngsters, the festival parade, will travel through historic downtown Okmulgee along Main Street on Saturday, June 26 at 10 a.m. A health fair will be held on Saturday at the Creek Council House Museum from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Also during that time, visitors can enjoy an art market on the lawn of the museum. The festival will also feature arts and crafts for viewing and purchase.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Festival is free and open to the public. A pre-festival takes place June 18-20 with the slow pitch softball tournament, local live entertainment and food vendors.
“We have more and more people attend and learn about our culture each year. A lot of people have told me they had no clue they could come, but we would love to have everyone there,” says Brian.
Shuttle parking will be available. You may park at the MCN Housing division parking lot or the parking lot east of the Mound at the MCN Complex, where shuttles are scheduled to run every 20 minutes. The Claude Cox Omniplex is located just west of the intersection of Highway 75 and Loop 56 in Okmulgee. For a complete list of events and times, please visit www.muscogeenation-nsn.gov.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.