34th annual Red Earth Festival moves to Shawnee, new event launches in October 2020

34th annual Red Earth Festival moves to Shawnee, new event launches in October 2020 to include parade and powwow in Oklahoma City

Rosemary Stephens

Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt join members and board of directors of the nonprofit Red Earth, Inc., to announce the long-running Red Earth Festival leaving Oklahoma City, heading to the Grand Event Center at the Grand Casino & Hotel in Shawnee for 2020.

Also, be revealed during the media event at the Petroleum Club in downtown Oklahoma City was the announcement of a new event to be held in conjunction with Indigenous Peoples Day in October 2020 and a series of statewide events celebrating Native American art and culture.

Filling the room was the rhythmic beating of Mike Kihega’s hand drum as Men’s Fancy dancer Cecil Gray and Fancy Shawl dancer Courtney Reeder showcased a sample of intricate dances one will see at the 34th annual Red Earth Festival this year in Shawnee.

“This is a significant time for Red Earth. Beginning in 2020 Red Earth Art Center operations will change from being housed in a single ‘brick and mortar’ location to a dynamic range of off-site offerings,” Vickie Norick, Red Earth Board of Directors chairwoman said. “We are so pleased to expand our events to include sites outside of central Oklahoma. We’re going to bring the Red Earth to the people.”

Norick said the 34th annual Red Earth Festival will feature America’s best and most accomplished artists guests have become accustomed to seeing.

“The festival will also include our other popular events including, ‘Ask the Expert,’ youth art show, Native dancing, storytelling and music performances,” Norick said.

The festival’s most used venue, the Cox Convention Center, will no longer be operating in its current iteration convention center following the opening of the $300 million MAPS3 convention center currently under construction. The new convention center doesn’t have an arena like the one in Cox Convention Center were the Red Earth Festival hosted dance competitions.

“Since it began in 1987, the Red Earth Festival has drawn thousands of people from across the world each year. It is a longstanding pillar as an event that brings significant tourism dollars to our state,” Judy Hatfield, Oklahoma Arts Council member said. “Yet as meaningful as the festival is to our state’s tourism industry, it is equally important for its role in bringing together native artists, dancers and singers from across the nation who present the unique traditions of their individual tribes. These traditions are distinct and diverse and each deserves to be acknowledged, preserved and celebrated.”

In recent years, the Red Earth Festival has had an economic impact to the state of Oklahoma of over $4 million. The Red Earth Festival, scheduled for June 13-14, at the Grand Event Center, owned by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Okla.

The annual parade associated with the Red Earth Festival will be staying in Oklahoma City but will be moved to October as Red Earth, Inc., launches a new event to commemorate Oklahoma City’s Indigenous Peoples Day. The Red Earth Parade is scheduled for Oct. 17, 2020, and will include a festival market and powwow celebrating Native art and culture at the Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Holt, a citizen of the Osage Nation and Oklahoma City’s first Native American mayor issued a proclamation in 2018 designating an October celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day in Oklahoma City. He issued a similar proclamation again in 2019.

“In 2018 I was proud to designate the first Indigenous People’s Day in Oklahoma City. It seems only fitting that the capital of the state with the most Tribal headquarters recognize their many contributions to the fabric of our community with a day to celebrate,” Holt said.

Holt told the audience Oklahoma is home to 39 Tribal nations, more than any other state in America, and Oklahoma City is proud the city’s history is preceded by many centuries of Indigenous history.

Other events announced throughout the state in 2020 is a collaborative art show with the Seminole Nation Museum in Wewoka, Okla., entitled, ‘Mvskoke Voices’ on view from April 6-June 13 featuring original works by eight Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole artists.

Red Earth will join with Will Rogers Memorial Museum and the Claremore Chamber of Commerce to present the new Red Earth Spring Market scheduled for April 18.

“The event will include an arts and crafts market, children’s activities, storytelling and social dances both inside the museum and on the lawn overlooking Claremore and Rogers State University,” Barby Myers, Red Earth board member and president and CEO of the Claremore Area Chamber of Commerce said.

The Red Earth Youth Art Show & Competition is scheduled for May 2-3 at the Oklahoma City outlets. The art education event is open to all Native youth ages 8 to 18 competing in three age divisions for prize money in categories including pottery, painting/drawing, graphics/photography, sculpture, basketry, beadwork, cultural items, and jewelry.

“Thirty-four years ago a dream was born when local businessmen, civic leaders, government officials and leaders of Oklahoma Tribes conceived the Red Earth Festival as a way to showcase Oklahoma’s outstanding Native talent. These goals and dreams continue today with the help of the Tribal communities, numerous volunteer planning committees and hundreds of volunteers who devote their knowledge and time throughout the year,” Shane Jett, member of the Red Earth Board of Directors, and a citizen of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation said.

For more information on all the events scheduled for 2020 visit www.redearth.org.

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