By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: June 2011
Kids love the annual fun fair at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Festival, featuring carnival rides, inflatables and more.
An elder Muscogee citizen, Rev. Joe Lowe, Jr., opens his sermons with the statement, “Yesterday, I asked God for many good things so that I could enjoy life. Today, he gave me life so that I can enjoy many good things.” Each day we awake with the most precious gift that could be given to any one individual – life. The theme for this year’s Muscogee (Creek) Nation Festival celebrates that most treasured gift from the Creator.
The Muscogee (Creek) people invite everyone to celebrate their rich culture with them at the 37th annual Muscogee (Creek) Nation Festival, June 23-26, 2011 at the Claude Cox Omniplex in Okmulgee. “This is a very exciting event for us because it brings the 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 official festival weekend kicks off with a ceremonial Stomp Dance on Thursday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. “The opening ceremony is part of our traditional religion,” explains Brian. “It is an amazing sight. 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 and much, much more. All events are free.
Created by Principal Chief A.D. Ellis, the Living Legends ceremony honors Muscogee (Creek) citizens who have made significant contributions to the tribe and takes place Friday, June 24 at 5:30 p.m.
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 Friday, June 24 at 9 p.m. is country star Jo Dee Messina. On Saturday at 7 p.m., The Plateros will perform, and then at 9 p.m., Dennis DeYoung and The Music of Styx.
The annual Muscogee Hymn Singing will be held in conjunction with the Gospel Singing. The singing will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 26. This event is a great opportunity to hear the traditional Christian hymns of the Muscogee people and witness one of the dearest facets of the Muscogee culture. This year’s event features some great southern gospel and contemporary singing that will be entertaining as well as inspirational.
The all-Indian rodeo takes place June 24 and 25, beginning at 6:30 each night. Join the hundreds of visitors who come to be part of the excitement of the rodeo, consisting of barrel racing, calf roping, bronco riding and bull riding.
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 and basketball, as well as a Junior Olympics for children.
The festival is a wonderful 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 downtown Okmulgee along Main Street on Saturday, June 25 at 10 a.m. In addition, parents will have the opportunity to have the condition of their child’s safety seat checked in the parking lot along Loop 56. Creek Nation Health will provide this service Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Anyone looking for a way to start living healthier can begin with the 2011 Festival 5K Walk/Run, which will take place Saturday, June 25. Trophies will be awarded to Overall Male and Female. Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in each group. Age groups competing in the event begin with 12 and under and progress to 70 and over.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Festival is free and open to the public. A pre-festival takes place June 17-19 with a slow pitch softball tournament. “We have more and more people attend and learn about our culture each year,” 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.