"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.”