The Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival is preparing to dance into a new venue this summer.
The 28th edition of the award-winning event is planned for June 5-7 at Remington Park, rather than the festival's longtime home at Cox Convention Center.
The festival will include a revised dance competition, art market and competitions, food booths, children's activities, live music, plus free parking. The Friday morning Red Earth Parade, a long-standing tradition, still will march through downtown on June 6, said Eric Oesch, Red Earth deputy director.
“It's going to be a big change, but I think it's going to be … a really good fit,” he said. “What worked in 1987 doesn't necessarily work in 2014, so we're kind of changing with the times.”
This year's Red Earth will begin on a Thursday evening and continue all day Friday and Saturday, with the art competition winners announced opening night. In the past, the event has started on Friday morning and closed Sunday afternoon.
With Remington Park's quarter horse live racing season ending June 1, Red Earth will be able to use the entire building, which boasts 90,000 square feet of indoor exhibition space.
“This worked out well for us time-wise,” said Dale Day, Remington Park's communications manager. “Basically, spaces of the building go dark … for about a month and half until we start the thoroughbred season in August.”
Organizers intend to set up booths for the juried art market on the ground and clubhouse levels, Oesch said, while the dance competition will take place outside in the saddling paddock. A children's tent, tepee display and food booths, along with an expanded live music lineup, are planned for the trackside plaza.
“They have the closed-circuit television throughout the building … and one of the things we're hoping and planning to do is simulcast the dancing. So no matter where you are in the building — looking at artwork or out on the trackside listening to a band or whatever — you'll be able to see the dancing going on,” Oesch said. “Won't that be cool to see dancers on that … 50-foot screen?”
For the first time, the festival this year will crown of a Red Earth National Champion in the men's fancy dance and women's fancy shawl dance categories.