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Red Earth looks beyond its traditional festival format



Competition is a tricky thing, especially for festivals vying for crowds, but Eric Oesch, deputy director of Red Earth, sees opportunity. This weekend's staging of the American Indian cultural festival at the Cox Convention Center will correspond with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus next door at the Ford Center.

Instead of worrying about thin crowds, Oesch said he believes that the competition will create larger crowds for both events, as people downtown for the circus will cross the street to check out Red Earth, and vice versa. Also, Ringling Bros.' resident elephant artist, Asia, will paint a work that will then be given to a Red Earth artist.

Another way Red Earth organizers hope to take advantage of the large amount of foot traffic is in the free performances on the Water Stage at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, several of the weekend's performers will make an additional appearance at the Water Stage following Friday's parade downtown. The performances start at 11 a.m. and wraps up at 8 p.m.

Red Earth will also feature non-traditional artists at the Water Stage to complement the more iconic art forms such as dance and folk music. American Indian rap group Culture Shock Camp is an example of how diverse American Indian entertainers have become, and Oesch said that it is important to feature that range.

A 5K fun run and 2K fun walk will be held at Regatta Park, which is also part of the simultaneous Oklahoma RiverFest. Oesch said he hopes that working with other events running parallel to Red Earth will make all of Oklahoma City a vital destination for those both inside and outside the state.  

"?Charles Martin


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