By: Deanna Rebro | Category: Other | Issue: April 2009
Jenks Herb and Plant Festival committee members (L to R): (Standing) Dixie Grahlman, Jim Bailey, Mari Migliore, Shari Keathley, Paul Greek, (Seated) Julie Watson, Kaye Maclaskey and Ginny Greek.
Main Street Jenks is getting greener this year with the expansion of the 13th annual Jenks Herb and Plant Festival on Saturday, April 25. From its early days, the festival, sponsored by the Jenks Garden Club, has used the First Baptist Church parking lot and neighboring side streets to showcase its outstanding selections. This year the area on Main Street between 1st and 3rd Streets will also turn green with plants.
Regulars say the city becomes “electric” on festival day, when more than 12,000 people make it the single biggest event in Jenks. Many downtown businesses say it’s their biggest shopping day of the year, with shoppers and vendors coming from Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and Kansas. Families come to this tourist destination to enhance their gardens and to absorb the charm of the many antique shops and boutiques in downtown Jenks, as well as the riverside attractions.
More than 100 vendors will be on hand to offer plants to eat, plants to decorate with and plants to benefit wildlife. All plants are adapted to local soil and weather conditions. Many are unique to the festival and not available in local nurseries.
Other favorite items available at the festival include bath and body soaps, homemade salsas, dry mixes and spices, garden decorations and antiques, homemade mosaics, garlands, baskets, and salad dressings. New this year are certified naturally-grown heirloom and open pollinated herbs, vegetables and plants, bonsai trees, strawberries, handcrafted paper greeting cards, bird baths, patio tables, custom wood yard ornaments, and sun catchers. Another first is victory garden packets from Neff Family Farms.
The Garden Railroaders will return, as will the Drop and Shop, where you can safely leave packages while shopping or enjoying the great food. The children’s area features hands-on opportunities for kids to learn about nature by planting a little something of their own to take home and watch grow.
The Jenks Police Department, Jenks Fire Department, city officials and the Garden Club all come together to help make the event safe and convenient for everyone.
Festival chairman Jim Bailey believes that due to the sagging economy, more people will plant gardens this spring. “Getting back to the earth also provides therapy,” adds Ginny Greek, club president. Jenks Garden Club members will be on hand to pass along plants from their gardens and provide free information. The Creek County Master Gardeners will also answer questions from novice to purist level.
Mari Migliore, entertainment chairman, says this year’s roster of entertainment focuses on youth talent. Lots of young singers and dancers will take the stage that could be a stepping stone to fame. Mari recalls watching Oklahoma native Alaina Whitaker perform with her sister several years ago. Alaina was among the top 24 contestants on last season’s “American Idol.”
The Herb and Plant Festival is the only fundraiser for the Jenks Garden Club. Past proceeds have furnished benches at Veterans Park and the pedestrian bridge. They have also provided seasonal plantings throughout the city and scholarships for college-bound Jenks High School students who plan to major in horticulture.
Members of the Jenks Garden Club are passionate about plants and work to educate the community year-round; that includes young people, too. One of the members recently led a group of preschoolers in planting daffodils around the Jenks Public Library.
This year’s festival starts a bit earlier than past events. It runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For hungry early birds, the Jenks Kiwanis Club will offer a special pancakes and sausage breakfast from 6:30 until 10 a.m. inside First Baptist Church. For more information on the Jenks Herb and Plant Festival, call the Jenks Garden Club at (918) 298-1013 or (918) 299-0007.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.