Choctaw Nation's Annual Labor Day Festival
The Choctaw Nation, the country’s third largest tribe, is hosting their annual Labor Day Festival from September 1-5. Roughly 100,000 people are expected to turn out in Tushka Homma, Oklahoma, to send summer off in style with a long weekend filled to the gills with events. This huge, five-day festival has a little something for everybody, including an inter-tribal pow wow, a ton of cultural exhibitions, a wide variety of sports, free concerts, story telling, dancing, quilting demonstrations, and specialty acts such as Magician Russell Turner, “Robinson’s Racing Pigs,” mechanical bull rides and Inca flute players.
The event kicks off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, with the Choctaw Nation Princess Pageant. All the district winners (there are 12 districts, based upon where contestants reside, which each have their pageants before the festival) gather at the Choctaw Grounds & Amphitheatre.
On Friday, September 2, the day is packed with things to do and see. The Choctaw Nation Museum, located in the 1884 capitol building of Choctaw Nation, opens at 9 a.m. You can see historic tribal documents, Choctaw pottery and art, and check out the vintage clothing. For those seeking poetry in motion, you can head outside of the museum and enjoy gourd dancing on the lawn at 2 p.m. Youth ages 8 to 18 can sign up for Chief Pyle’s Physical Fitness Challenge, with registration taking place on the Council Chambers lawn at 5 p.m. While the kids are getting their exercise, adults can head to the amphitheater for some free live music. At 7 p.m. the Inter-Tribal Pow Wow Grand Entry begins back on the Capitol lawn. There’s a fast pitch tournament at Red Warrior Park at the same time.
Saturday, September 3, is a day of sport, and it begins bright and early. For anyone who enjoys running, the 5K registration is between 6:30 and 7:45 a.m., with the actual race starting at 8. The day includes the continuation of the fast pitch tournament, as well as the start to the three-on-three Choctaw War Hoops basketball competition, a horseshoe tournament, a co-ed volleyball tournament, and both a free throw and three -int contest on the basketball courts. Over at the Choctaw Village, there’s dancing, a stickball skills lesson, Banaha making (a Choctaw bread) and storytelling. For those more interesting in seeing then doing, there’s the 8th Annual Choctaw art show on the 2nd floor of the Choctaw Nation Museum, the children’s drama at the Choctaw Village Amphitheater, and more free concerts starting at 6.
Sunday, September 4, includes a golf tournament at Sycamore Springs Golf Courses in Wilburton, gospel singing at the Amphiteather, and, as no festival would be complete without it, a domino and checker tournament. It’s also good to note that throughout the festival, the capitol lawn is a good place to check in as that’s where the specialty acts take place, from the aforementioned racing pigs, Inca flute playing and magic show to rock climbing and pony rides.
On Labor Day, September 5, starting at 10 a.m., the official Labor Day ceremonies begin with the posting of flags by the Choctaw Color Guard. Sarah de Herrera will sing the National Anthem, followed by the Lord’s Prayer in sign language, and a State of the Nation address by Chief Gregory E. Pyle.
The Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival is a great place to put an un-official end to your summer.
For detailed information on the schedule of events, click here.
For more information on the Nation, visit their site here.