Added musical performances, a fitness component, expanded food offerings and more partnerships with other events are among the changes for the 22nd annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival. The premier American Indian art and dance festival opens today and continues through Saturday and Sunday at Cox Convention Center. This year, the festival will have more free outdoor activities to draw people into the event. "We've always thought there were ways to expand the festival and to partner with other entities to add more activities, and ... we're looking forward to a really great festival overall,” said Red Earth Inc. Executive Director Connie Yellowman. Through a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Red Earth is adding a lineup of free entertainment at the Myriad Botanical Gardens Water Stage. Nationally known American Indian musicians will perform on the outdoor stage from about 10:30 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. today. The performers include Grammy Award-winning balladeer Joanne Shenandoah, violinist Arvel Bird and hip-hop group Brian Frejo and Culture Shock Camp. Some of these performers will appear inside the Cox center on the festival's cultural performance stage, including musicians, storytellers and actors. Among the performers scheduled for the indoor stage are hip-hop group Ha'Stylez, storytelling troupe Mahenwahdose and actress Irene Bedard, the voice of Disney's "Pocahontas.” "We've really been successful in growing that area, and different people draw different crowds,” Yellowman said. "But we've noticed that certain people are just drawn to that area and spend a lot of time there.” Some of the performers will appear onstage in the children's area, which will feature live music and cultural activities such as Indian games, face painting and making corn husk dolls. Another of the new outdoor offerings will be the Slammin' n' Jammin block party from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on the south plaza of the Cox Convention Center on Reno Avenue, which will be closed to traffic between the Cox and Ford centers. The block party will feature tennis and basketball games and activities, along with appearances by basketball Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard, former Women's Tennis Association pro Tara Snyder and University of Oklahoma hoopsters Ashley and Courtney Paris and Jenna Plumley. Tennis and basketball games will be played along the 2.5-mile Red Earth parade route at 10:30 a.m. today to show that sports are healthy and fun activities. The United States Tennis Association Missouri Valley, Red Earth, the Association of American Indian Physicians and Sports City University are offering the activities. "We started with the focus on healthy lifestyles two years ago when we started the 5K run and 2K fun walk on the Oklahoma River,” Yellowman said. "It expands what we can offer in celebrating Native culture. ... Basketball is a big sport among Native Americans.” The festival will again partner with Oklahoma Riverfest to offer the Red Earth Festival Run at Riverfest. Registration opens at 7 a.m. Saturday, and the races begin at 8 a.m. at Regatta Park and the River Trails. In addition, Red Earth is partnering with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which will be at the Ford Center today through Sunday. Circus performers, including comic-daredevil star Bello Nock, will march in the Red Earth parade. Circusgoers can present their tickets for $3 discounts to Red Earth, and festivalgoers can get a $3 discount to the circus, Red Earth Deputy Director Eric Oesch said. The circus and festival also will collaborate on an art project, Yellowman said. One of the elephants will create a painting, which Red Earth artist Brent Learned of Oklahoma City will embellish. Besides the typical festival fare and Indian tacos, this year the festival will offer an expanded selection of American Indian foods, including buffalo burgers, meat pies and posole, or hominy soup. The art market and dance competition remain the event's core activities. Almost 200 artists have juried into the art market and will show and sell beadwork, baskets, jewelry, pottery, paintings and cultural attire. Also, at least 75 youth artists are expected to show their work. "We were really pleased with the quality of work we saw in the jury process,” Yellowman said. "It's quite a large competition and show.” Last year's event drew more than 700 dancers. Organizers hope to see the same number this year, despite high gasoline prices. Red Earth remains one of the few venues where dancers from America's Northern and Southern continents can be seen in the same place. Dancers in vibrant regalia will compete in categories such as men's fancy dance, women's jingle dress and women's fancy shawl. The festival starts at 10:30 a.m. today with the parade through downtown, featuring representatives of more than 100 tribes, along with floats, bands, drum groups and more. "It's fun and we get so many parade registrations from so many interesting groups,” Yellowman said. "It's a really good way to start off the three-day event.”Comments
Red Earth Festival•Where: Cox Convention Center. •When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The opening parade begins at 10:30 a.m. today. •Single-day pass: Adults (age 18 to 59) $10; senior citizens (60+) $7.50; youth (6 to 17) $7.50; children younger than 5 admitted free. Three-day pass: Adults (age 18 to 59) $20; senior citizens (60+) $15; youth (6 to 17) $15 each; children younger than 5 admitted free. •Information: www.redearth.org.
Today•8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Dancer registration, south entrance lobby. •9 to 10 a.m.: Parade lineup, Reno Avenue, south of Cox Convention Center. •10:30 to 11:30 a.m.: Parade, downtown. •11 a.m. to 8 p.m.: Art market, Exhibit Halls 2 and 3; vendor market, Exhibit Hall 1; Red Earth merchandise and survey, Exhibit Hall C; youth art, Exhibit Hall D; cultural activities, Exhibit Hall B; cultural performances, Myriad Botanical Gardens Water Stage; 5K run and 2K fun walk registration, Regatta Park. •Noon: Grand entry, arena. •1 to 5 p.m.: Dance competition, arena. •5 to 7 p.m.: Gourd dance, arena. •7 p.m.: Grand entry, arena. •8 to 11 p.m.: Dance competition, arena.
Saturday•7 to 8 a.m.: Registration for 5K run and 2K fun walk, Chesapeake Boathouse at Regatta Park. •8 a.m.: Start 5K run and 2K fun walk, Oklahoma River Trails at Regatta Park. •10 a.m. to noon: Dancer registration, south entrance lobby. •10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Slammin' n' Jammin' block party, South Plaza, Reno Ave. •10 a.m. to 8 p.m.: Art market, Exhibit Halls 2 and 3; vendor market, Exhibit Hall 1; Red Earth merchandise and survey, Exhibit Hall C; youth art, Exhibit Hall D; cultural activities, Exhibit Hall B; cultural performance stage, Exhibit Hall A. •Noon: Grand entry, arena. •1 to 5 p.m.: Dance competition, arena. •5 to 7 p.m.: Gourd dance, arena. •7 p.m.: Grand entry, arena. •8 to 11 p.m.: Dance competition, arena.
Sunday•11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Art market, Exhibit Halls 2 and 3; vendor market, Exhibit Hall 1; Red Earth merchandise and survey, Exhibit Hall C; youth art, Exhibit Hall D; cultural activities, Exhibit Hall B; cultural performance stage, Exhibit Hall A; Red Earth Headquarters, Exhibit Hall E. •Noon: Grand entry, arena. •1 to 4 p.m.: Dance competition, arena. •2 p.m.: Youth art awards ceremony, Exhibit Hall A. •4:30 to 5:30 p.m.: Dance competition awards, arena.