GUIDE: 17 best Oklahoma festivals for April

by This Land


The redbuds are popping. Patios are packed. The winter-white plains give way to waving green grasses as the clouds skate to the ends of the sky, not to return until ’round about Halloween.

Spring is at hand in Oklahoma, and these are just a few of the signs. The gateway to a summer full of fun across the state yawns before you, lined with a collection of festivals and shindigs that are sure to satisfy both young and old.

From prairie chickens to Bigfoot, from jousting to chalk art, from vikings to world champion cow-chip flingers: Here are the best festivals and things to do in Oklahoma this April.

MUSKOGEE: Azalea Festival
The traffic near Honor Heights Park in Muskogee turns heinous as horticulture tourists come from far and wide to see 625 varieties of azaleas. They herald spring from high above the city, with an explosion of their delicate blossoms. More about the Azalea Festival

CHICKASHA: Montmartre Chalk Art Festival
Tip-toe your way through the Monmartre Chalk Art Festival at the oval at the University of Science and Arts in Chickasha, a festival modeled after the one in the land of croissants and the Eiffel Tower, where the chalk artists swap berets for cowboy hats. More about the Montmartre Chalk Art Festival

NORMAN: Medieval Faire
Not many would say that the words “medieval times” spring to mind when thinking back to the year 1977, but that’s the year jousting knights, juggling minstrels, mermaids, and human rooks emerged in Norman at the first Medeival Faire there. More about the Norman Medieval Faire

TULSA: Wanenmacher’s Tulsa Arms Show
Between celebrity guests; more than 4,000 tables of guns, knives, and swords filling 11 acres; and wrapping practically every gun enthusiast in the region around one of the largest clearspan buildings in the world—at something 40,000 attendees, it’s more visitors to the fairgrounds than any other two-day event—Joe Wanenmacher reckons he runs the largest firearms show in the world. More about the Tulsa Arms Show

WOODWARD: Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival
Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival participants get a close look at Tympanuchus pallidicinctus (pictured above), a grouse species that makes its home on the prairies. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot instances of what’s called lekking, a behavior known as grandstanding among us Homo sapiens, where the brilliantly colored birds spar and dance as a display of competitive mating. More about the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival

Oklahoma’s former A&M college is the site of what many contend is the largest drag show in the Midwest, an event that has grown from a corner of the Student Union Ballroom into a day-long party that takes over campus, last year selling 950 seats. More about Dragonfly

CATOOSA: Easter Island Music Festival
The coming of spring—and, with it, the 2013 season of outdoor music festivals—is nothing to celebrate lightly. The Easter Island Music Festival offers the chance to make an entire weekend of it, serving up nearly three full days of camping, art, and music from around here. More about the Easter Island Music Festival

HONOBIA: Honobia Bigfoot Festival & Conference
The annual Bigfoot Festival & Conference in southeastern Oklahoma is part business, part backwoods bash. You’re welcome to enter your own work in the Bigfoot art show, and you’re expected to bring nothing but your best song to the Bigfoot Idol Music Contest. More about the Honobia Bigfoot Festival & Conference

BEAVER: World Championship Cow Chip Throwing Contest
At the World Cow Chip Throwing Championship Contest, the decision of the chip judge is final. Chip flingers from across the region amble toward the Panhandle city of Beaver for a chance to compete in this contest, based on how far participants can chunk patties of dried cow manure. More about the World Championship Cow Chip Throwing Contest

ELMORE CITY: Footloose Festival
Count yourself one degree closer to Kevin Bacon when you show up at the Footloose Festival, held each April at the Elmore City Community Center. The festival—centered on a four-block, Main Street dance inspired by the 1980 high school prom that marked the overturning of a ban on dancing in Elmore City—celebrates the event that inspired the 1984 film Footloose, in which Bacon played the lead role. More about the Footloose Festival

HEAVENER: Music on the Mountain Viking & Celtic Festival
Why settle for a History Channel miniseries when you can press your finger into the famous markings inside a cave in Heavener, Oklahoma? The markings are believed by some to be runes left by a group of marooned Vikings, who somehow managed to wander deep into the middle of America. More about the Viking & Celtic Festival

OKC: Festival of the Arts
This week-long festival showcases OKC’s take on the arts in a variety of forms, setting displays of visual, culinary, and performing arts creations like jewels in the skyline of downtown. Keep your eyes peeled for the dozens of plaza artists and street performers, plus many an opportunity to harden your arteries along International Food Row. More about Festival of the Arts

CLAREMORE: Woolly Weekend
Sit in on a sheep-to-shawl workshop while nibbling on grass-fed lamb at Woolly Weekend, held each April in Claremore at Shepherd’s Cross, where business is equal parts farming, ranching, and the saving of souls. More about Woolly Weekend

JET: Birding and Crystal Festival
There aren’t many places we know of in our state where you can get crystal digging, birdwatching, fish hatchery tours, and cooking demonstrations all in the same place, all during the same weekend, never mind in a place that’s half moonscape, half wetland. More about the Birding and Crystal Festival

TAHLEQUAH: Red Fern Festival
After you take first prize in the Tahlequah Duck Race and the crawdad catch, snag the biggest fern money can buy at the red-fern sale that’s every year part of the Red Fern Festival in Tahlequah. It’s a commemoration of the time the state hosted the filming of the movie, inspired by the novel penned by Wilson Rawls. More about the Red Fern Festival

BROKEN ARROW: Turkish Festival
Baklava, Turkish coffee, and ebru workshops… deep in the heart of Oklahoman suburbia. It happens every year as part of the Turkish Festival, where no one a stone’s throw from Broken Arrow need cross the big pond to try a plate of authentic doner kebab. More about the Turkish Festival

PERRY: Rural Heritage Festival
Weave rope at the Rural Heritage Festival, where the higher points of the Oklahoma country life of yore is celebrated at the Cherokee Strip Museum and Perry’s downtown Courthouse Square every April. More about the Rural Heritage Festival

So. What are you planning to get up to in Oklahoma this month?

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