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Summer Guide: Festival eats

Celebrate two food world “capitals,” Oklahoma traditions of calf fries, noodling and more.

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Self-proclaimed “Crawfish King” Chris “Shaggy” Davis will serve boiled crawfish and jambalaya at Chisholm Trail & Crawfish Festival. - PROVIDED
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  • Self-proclaimed “Crawfish King” Chris “Shaggy” Davis will serve boiled crawfish and jambalaya at Chisholm Trail & Crawfish Festival.

Summer is a time for abundance, and what better way than to celebrate the harvest by enjoying some Oklahoma specialties at food festivals across the state? Through August, from crawfish to blackberries, there is a food festival for every hungry Oklahoman.

Chisholm Trail & Crawfish Festival
June 2 | Free
Mollie Spencer Farm
1001 Garth Brooks Boulevard, Yukon
chisholmtrail.org

Hosted by Chisholm Trail Historical Preservation Society and the City of Yukon, this free event blends the spiciness of Cajun culture with historical reenactments, craft booths, live music, dancing and fun with live animals. Self-proclaimed “Crawfish King” Chris “Shaggy” Davis — who tours the country hosting Louisiana-style crawfish boils — will prepare crawfish and jambalaya.

Attendees can learn more about Chisholm Trail history at the western-themed Olde Towne located on the southern side of the festival grounds. It features live stables with Clydesdales, a recreation of a general store and blacksmith demonstrations.


World’s Largest Calf Fry Festival & Cook-Off
June 2 | $10 tasting kit
Craig County Fairgrounds
915 E. Apperson Road, Vinita

This local delicacy has been celebrated with its own festival since 1979. If you are not familiar with calf fries, you might also refer to them as Rocky Mountain oysters. Nearly 1,000 pounds of calf fries are consumed during the festival, which welcomes as many as 3,000 visitors annually, according to its website.

If you don’t want to venture into the realm of calf-fry tasting, there is plenty of other food for sampling, including Cowboy beans, cobblers, salsa and bread. Tasting begins at noon, and attendees can cast a vote for their favorite competitors. The festival coincides with Vinita’s Big Country Weekend, which includes nightly performances at Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo.

Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival
June 8-10 | Free-$16
Cox Convention Center
1 Myriad Gardens
redearth.org

Beginning with the Red Earth Parade in downtown Oklahoma City on June 8 and ending with the Red Earth PowWow intertribal gathering and contests on June 10, the cultural festival celebrates Native American culture from tribes all over the country.

For the first time this year, Red Earth is expanding beyond the Cox Convention Center food court to bring in outside food trucks that will be located at Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Tuttle Ice Cream Festival
June 16 | Free
221 W. Main Street, Tuttle
facebook.com/tuttleicecreamfestival

Braum’s might’ve been founded in Emporia, Kansas, in 1968, but its headquarters has been located in Tuttle since 1975. Celebrate Oklahoma’s most beloved ice cream by sampling flavors donated by Braum’s and participate in an ice cream eating contest or a homemade ice cream competition.

It’s never too early to get your ice cream fix, as the festival begins at 9 a.m. and features a parade starting at noon. The festival also features carnival rides, live music and a classic car show.

Okie Noodling Tournament
June 15-16 | Free
Wacker Park
100 W. Paul Ave., Pauls Valley
okienoodling.com

The world’s largest hand-fishing tournament is much larger than the competition itself. The event has expanded to include a tournament eve concert June 15 that features Stoney LaRue and The Judson Cole Band.

The tournament runs until 6 p.m. June 16, but there is plenty of entertainment for spectators, including separate catfish- and noodle-eating competitions. After the tournament winners are announced, the band Shotgun Rider will close the festival with a performance.

Blackberry Festival
July 6-7 | Free
Veteran’s Park Highway 270 and Oklahoma Street, McLoud
mcloudchamber.com/2018-blackberry-festival

The McLoud Blackberry Festival dates back to the 1940s, when the berry was a cash crop for the Pottawatomie County town. Through the 1960s, McLoud was the self-proclaimed Blackberry Capital of the World, and a crate of its blackberries was once sent to President Truman.

Although the industry has receded, its legacy is still celebrated in conjunction with being the longest-running Fourth of July event in the state. Friday night features a musical performance by Blackwater Smoke at 9 p.m. The festival opens 9 a.m. Saturday and features a parade, a blackberry baking contest, a cobbler eating competition and a performance by Oklahoma City’s The Wise Guys band at 8 p.m.

Rush Springs Watermelon Festival
August 11 | Free
Jeff Davis Park
E. 1550 Road, Rush Springs
facebook.com/rushspringswatermelonfestival

Not only is admission free, but so are the namesake watermelon slices available to the 20,000 visitors expected to descend on the town with a population of 1,275. Watermelon cultivation in the Rush Springs area predates statehood, and the town promotes itself as the Watermelon Capital of the World.

The festival has been held annually since 1948, and Saturday events include a 5K Watermelon Run, live music, country line dancing, a Watermelon Queen contest and Elvis Presley impersonators. The Rush Springs Rodeo at the nearby Rusty Acres Arena runs concurrent to the festival.

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