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Four Festivals, Four Hours

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life, Feature, Local News.
October 3, 2011

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Almost every week, a festival or fair can be found in some corner of Oklahoma. And on particularly popular weekends, the list can be overwhelming. Recently, Tulsa hosted at least four on one day. Could I sample all four, in four hours? I went out to try to hit that dubious goal.

First stop, the Oklahoma Scottish festival, on the banks of the Arkansas River. Kilts replaced pants, bagpipes screamed for attention, and grunts echoed through the grounds as competitors heaved logs in the traditional Scottish game known as caber toss. Speaking of kilts, the world’s largest made its debut.

“It’s got a lot of people talking. The only problem is that I have to come up with something bigger and better next year,” said Steve Campbell, festival organizer.

Scottish specialties like mince and tatties, meat pies, and Scottish lager to wash it all down kept visitors satisfied. The festival doubled as a reunion for Scots, with clans setting up tents for their relatives.

Greece was only a five minute car ride away. Well the Greek Festival, more precisely. A tent the size of a cruise ship kitty cornered next to Tulsa’s Greek Orthodox Church packed hundreds in. People told me they were there for one reason.

“800 dollar plane fare to come here because this food’s better”, said one attendee.

Not just the gyros, shish kabobs and Greek salad, but also baklava, that gooey phyllo pastry overflowing with nuts.

“People know how good it is and they stop and they buy it. They stock up. You’ll see people come in on Thursday, they come from work downtown, said Greg Metevelis, head of the festival.

“And they’ll come Friday again because they know it’s only three days so they want to try to stock up on everything they can in those three days.”

On to the Rock n Ribs festival, next to the BOK Center. The Katy Perry concert starting a couple hours after my arrival made for a striking sight…teeny boppers in candy colored outfits next to tough guy bikers, all chowing down on ribs.

“It’s a whole lot messy. You can tell it’s messy from what’s already dripped on your mic. It’s all worth it, yes,” said one.

At each booth, banners seemed to reach for the sky, displaying each and every win the cook had in competitions all over the country. Blaring music beckoned those strolling by. But people didn’t necessarily pay attention to that…

“Whichever ones have the longer lines usually.”

From blocks away, I knew I was getting close to the Hispanic festival. A small park in downtown Tulsa the place, music the showcase. A couple food trucks lined the street bordering the park, serving burritos, tacos, quesadillas. But people I talked to seem more occupied with the sound in the air…whether that meant dancing in front of the stage, or bobbing their head to the beat.

Leaving the Hispanic festival at 7 PM, my goal achieved, I realized these are more than just food and music. It’s a chance to get transported to a carefree place, whether that’s your homeland, or a backyard barbeque. And there’s an added benefit….one estimate says the Oklahoma State Fair brings a hundred million dollars to the local economy every year.

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