Oklahoma Stories

2023 Oklahoma Festival Guide

By Elaine Warner June 2023

Welcome to your festival guide! Get ready to embark into Oklahoma’s vibrant world of music, art, culture and celebration.

This guide will help you discover hidden gems and inspire you to release your inner explorer. Let the festival season begin!

Click on map to view detailed list of submitted festivals for this year’s guide.

Tulsa Juneteenth

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Juneteenth celebrates the announcement of freedom from slavery to the last area to hear the news. This happened in Texas, two and a half years after the actual Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Tulsa, noted for its thriving Black community, the subsequent massacre and the rebirth of the area, is observing its seventh annual celebration of Juneteenth. The observance was founded by the late Sherry Gamble-Smith, whose daughter, Lauren Corbitt, is now the festival director.

More than 50,000 people came to the OSU-Tulsa campus lawn last year. The three-day celebration recognizes the history, features a tribute to Gamble-Smith and her legacy of entrepreneurship and celebrates Black culture with an art gallery, live music, lots of food and activities including a 5K and fun run, a kids’ zone, arts and crafts, vendors of jewelry, apparel, books and more.

Porter Peach Festival

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Peaches have been an important crop in this area since before statehood. A Porter peach even won a medal at the 1904 World’s Fair. So it’s only natural that the town of Porter celebrates this local treasure.

The festival takes place on Thursday and Friday nights and includes a talent show, a culinary contest, street games, a tractor pull and live music.

Saturday’s activities include a 5K run, benefit breakfast, kids’ zone, food trucks and vendors, a parade and prize peach auction. The afternoon highlight is free peaches and ice cream. A scavenger hunt, mud bogs and music round out the day.

Director Krystal Livesay, Lake Region Cooperative member, says that Livesay Orchards and the Peach Barn will be open all three days for shopping.

Larry Mattes, communications specialist at Lake Region, says, “We’ve been helping with the festival for years. We are not only sponsors, but we will also have a booth where we can visit with our members and promote our new fiber internet service.”

Rush Springs Watermelon Festival

Rush Springs capitalizes on its reputation as Oklahoma’s Watermelon Capital with a festival that attracted 25,000 visitors last year. Activities start early and end late, featuring everything from 5K and 10K runs, arts and crafts booths, carnival rides, entertainment and food booths run by local organizations. And, of course, there are watermelons—all sorts of melon competitions from largest melon to the seed-spitting contest. Melons are for sale until 4 p.m., then everyone gathers for a free watermelon feed.

The event also includes a car and motorcycle show and a Little Miss and Mr. contest. Carnival rides stay open until midnight.

As for the seed-spitting contest, the Guinness World Record, 75 feet, two inches, was set by a Texan in 1995. The Rush Springs record is 52 feet. Better start practicing your pucker now.

Rural Electric Cooperative is one of the festival sponsors.

FireLake Fireflight Balloon Fest

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Members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation are all fired up about the sixth annual Balloon Fest.

“Potawatomi people are known as the ‘keepers of the fire,’” Dennette Summerlin, one of the festival planners, says. “FireLake is how we refer to the community in and around our tribal headquarters.”

Considering the flames used to inflate hot air balloons, the association was perfect.

Over 50,000 guests attended last year’s two-day festival. Expect balloon launchings, balloon glows, musical entertainment, food trucks, a kids’ zone with inflatables, bungee trampolines, a zip line, carnival rides, a hunting and fishing show, fireworks and more. The festival is free but there is a $10 charge for kids’ zone admission.

Tethered balloon rides are available for $20 and regular balloon rides can be arranged for a fee.

Guymon Fiesta

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The enticing aroma of Hispanic dishes, brilliant colors, the sound of mariachi music—Guymon’s Fiesta tickles the senses and invites guests to enjoy the diverse cultures of neighbors from southern nations.

In the ‘90s, an influx of immigrants seeking jobs came to the area.

Main Street Director Melyn Johnson, Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC) member, recalls, “the community wanted to adjust with change. The best way to bring people together is through the arts. We saw that a festival would be a good thing.”

TCEC member Soila Medina, Fiesta director, says that the first Fiesta was more of a block party with women selling enchiladas at tables.

“Now it’s food trucks with tacos, enchiladas, gorditas, fruit cocktails and more,” Medina says.

Featuring Guymon’s Alma Folklorica Dancers, the festival also offers games, face painting and a king and queen contest with an academic incentive. Participants receive scholarships to Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
Medina adds, “Tri-County Cooperative is one of our sponsors and has been for many years.”

Talihina Fall Foliage Festival

Location, location, location — Talihina, Oklahoma, located at the western end of the Talimena National Scenic Byway, is the perfect spot to enjoy Oklahoma’s colorful fall foliage. Their annual Fall Foliage Festival is scheduled at the peak of color in the nearby Ouachita National Forest. The festival celebrates the season with entertainment, food and fun. Attractions include live music, a fun run, car show, quilt show, arts and craft vendors, a kids’ zone and petting zoo.

If you want to drive the 54-mile Talihina Byway as part of your weekend, book a room now. Be aware that many places, including the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge, require a two-night stay on foliage season weekends. Accommodations book up as much as six months in advance.


For more information on individual events in this year’s guide, visit our events page and filter by “2023 Festival Guide”



Category: Oklahoma Stories

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