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Oklahoma ScissorTales: A new chapter for Red Earth Festival

Dancers perform at the 2019 Red Earth Festival. [The Oklahoman Archives]
Dancers perform at the 2019 Red Earth Festival. [The Oklahoman Archives]

For the past 33 years, the Red Earth Festival has graced downtown Oklahoma City with its tribute to and celebration of Native American art and culture. That will change this year.

Organizers announced this week that the festival is moving to the Grand Event Center at the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort in Shawnee. The dates are June 13-14.

The change is due in part to the fact the Cox Convention Center, which has been home to the Red Earth Festival, will be replaced eventually by the city’s new convention center, and that building won’t have an arena. The Grand Event Center’s theater will host the dance showcases.

“We’re changing with the times, and we’re kind of charting a new course,” said Eric Oesch, co-director of Red Earth Inc.

Oklahoma City, meantime, will remain the home for the popular Red Earth Parade. It will be folded into a new Red Earth FallFest, scheduled Oct. 17 in the Myriad Botanical Gardens. The free event will feature a powwow, a festival market and other attractions.

It’ll be sad to see Red Earth go, but this change ultimately stands to be a win for Shawnee and for Oklahoma City.

Good wishes for Be a Neighbor initiative

A crowd estimated at 1,200 attended the Oklahoma Governor’s Prayer Breakfast this week — a reflection of the state’s deep religious roots. Attendees prayed for Oklahomans in state and federal offices, and were invited to take part in a potentially transformative effort promoted by Gov. Kevin Stitt and first lady Sarah Stitt. It’s called “Be A Neighbor,” and it encourages faith-based groups, nonprofits and community organizers to help reduce high school dropout rates, assist youths aging out of foster care, and reduce recidivism. The website,, offers information on all 77 counties in Oklahoma and how to help. The governor said, correctly, that government “can’t do this by ourselves. We cannot solve some of these social issues.” By using a county-by-county approach, Stitt said, “it’s so much easier to get our arms around that and it takes a neighbor walking beside someone to fix these issues.” Here’s hoping Oklahomans answer the call and the initiative proves successful.

A common-sense step on licensing

Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, is among the leaders of the push to reform Oklahoma’s occupational licensing laws. One of Pugh’s bills brings common sense to the equation. Senate Bill 1540 would repeal a requirement that “threaders” obtain a cosmetology license. Threading is an ancient technique in which unwanted hair — usually eyebrows or hair on the upper lip — is plucked using thread. No chemicals are involved. Yet threaders in Oklahoma must have a cosmetology license, which requires 600 hours of training and can cost several thousand dollars — and doesn’t include training in threading. Violating the state’s cosmetology law can result in fines up to $500 and jail time. A Senate committee voted 8-0 for SB 1540, the first step in what we hope is a successful effort.

Contraband prison phones have FCC’s attention

U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, was right this week to cheer the fact that the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed budget includes a goal of reducing the use of contraband cellphones in prisons. The item is among the FCC’s strategic goals for fiscal year 2021. Oklahoma prison officials would welcome any movement in this area. In 2018, more than 7,500 contraband cellphones were seized from Oklahoma inmates. The phones are used to coordinate criminal activity outside of prison walls and can be a problem within the system as well. The FCC budget proposal includes “simple reforms that we can all get behind to protect guards and communities,” Lankford said, “and to block the planning of criminal activity from happening from within our state prisons.” Let’s hope something concrete emerges.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›