Woody Guthrie told us this land is our land.
Okemah is Woody's territory, from the building-side murals sporting his larger-than-life face to his name etched in sidewalk cement near the 100-year-old Crystal Theatre, where the 13th annual Woody Guthrie Festival kicked off Wednesday.
At the Crystal Theatre, everybody's a Woody fan. On the 98th anniversary of his birthday, his son, Arlo Guthrie, was the festival headliner, playing folk tunes with his son, Abe Guthrie, and his grandsons Krishna Guthrie and Mo Guthrie.
Ramsay Midwood opened for Arlo and said WoodyFest reminds musicians that their profession isn't about the fame or the money.
"It kind of brings everyone back to the reason they started making music," Midwood said.
Arlo Guthrie carries on the legacy of his father by continuing to make music that has a message, Midwood said. Those messages become more important than even the artist.
"It wasn't always about Woody," Midwood said. "He was more shining the spotlight. You looked at him because of where he was looking."
During Midwood's soundcheck, Okemah native Randy Thompson made his rounds throughout the theater, making sure everything was in order before the festival began. Thompson was at the first WoodyFest and he's been a volunteer the past three years. Almost everyone who works at the festival is.
He took a break outside the ticket office, ran his hands through his hair and said he didn't have much to talk about, but like everyone here, he is a fan of Woody Guthrie.
"Everybody comes in and does what they can do," Thompson said.
"That's kind of the idea with Woody Guthrie. The music and everything about him brings everyone together," he said.
A map littered with pushpins resides on the wall in the Okfuskee County History Center next to the theater, showing where WoodyFest
He looked outside the theater's front window, where some locals were lining up hours before the show was set to begin.
Weatherford resident Josh Lightfoot stood in the shade of the Crystal Theatre marquee and said he was eager to see Arlo for the first time, but is a steadfast fan of his father.
"Woody Guthrie was the first person to actually say something in music," Lightfoot said. "Mainstream, they don't have something to say, and I think that folk music is really dying out and the people that come here are the ones who really care what real music is."
Lightfoot and his friend Russell Majors have been camping out in Okemah since Monday at the fairgrounds, which resembles something out of Woodstock.
Other campers fed the duo stew and barbecue without hesitation.
The two said they escaped the Oklahoma sun inside of a tent and a mattress covered by a gazebo.
The bank sign across the street from the theater said it was 96 degrees, but Lightfoot and Majors didn't care. They were there for the music.
"With Woody Guthrie it comes to two things," Majors said. "You can either find God or you can find Woody Guthrie."
If you go
Woody Guthrie Folk Festival
When: Continues today through
Where: Various venues in Okemah.
What: Musical performances, children's activities, open mike, poetry reading, documentary screening, songwriter workshops and fundraisers.
Admission: Free except for the opening show at 8 p.m. Wednesday, featuring Arlo Guthrie, $30 for general admission, $50 for Gold Circle seating.
Parking: Free for daytime events; $10 per car evenings at the Pastures of Plenty Stage.