AirFest 2017

…is this coming weekend! Just kidding, you missed it! (Sorry.) What a great event it was! Last week I felt so proud of our community! Okmulgee’s city workers worked their butts off to bring us an event that I think everyone is looking forward to having again, and it was VERY well-attended. I’ve heard estimates of there being around four thousand spectators. The food trucks served until they ran out of food, and our other vendors were swamped. What an awesome problem to have! My guess is the next Air Fest will have even more Okmulgee citizens, and out-of-towners, in attendance.

I think this event exemplified ‘Okmulgee Rising’, and also pointed to the progressive-mindedness of our City Councilors, Mayor, and City Manager. The Chamber of Commerce and Main Street both had a HUGE hand in helping to pull it off as well. Our community is at its best when we’re working together and creating more opportunities and exciting experiences for our citizens.

I’m very proud of the Okmulgee Highschool Student Leadership, National Honors Society students, and the First United Methodist youth for showing up and volunteering! I even had personal friends asking me a couple of months ago how they could volunteer at this event, and showed up to help too. (Thank you, Brown Family!) This fantastic event was so well executed by the many hands we had on board. We were all pulling together toward the same goal. I heard that the Air Boss said our Air Fest was the best-organized first-time event he’s ever seen in a community! Jon Giddings and Kim Priegel did an excellent job of coordinating all the volunteer efforts.

If you missed it, don’t worry, Okmulgee will host the event again in 2019. The future plans are to hold this event every other year, opposite of the years when Claremore holds their Air Show. I think it went over so well we need to give some serious consideration to a Hot Air Balloon show on our off years. Anybody on board?

I enjoyed serving on the marketing committee for this event, and I hope you’ll agree it was well-publicized. Our graphics looked professional and stream lined, and the entire committee worked hard to keep the budget we were working with. We made some great promotional videos (Thanks Crystal Larabee and Chris Azbell), and we have a solid foundation on which to build our marketing of the next epic Air Fest in Okmulgee!

Don’t forget that at an event like this one, it takes many people behind the scenes doing all the leg work and planning out the logistical details. Just like the awesome performers we had this past weekend, these kind of details can often go over our heads! For all those who served and helped this event run so smoothly, a BIG THANK YOU is very much deserved. I hope all my readers understand how hard our City worked to bring us this event, and that hard work was on top of all the other things they’re doing just to keep our city running! If you meet a City worker out in the community, I hope you’ll shake their hand and thank them for working so hard. I love the imagery conveyed in the expression ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, and I can’t help but feel that it describes this current period of time in Okmulgee. I can’t wait for what all is in store for our town!

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*Additional (and awesome) contributions were made to this article by Kasey Bowers.

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Richard Larabee is an Okmulgee downtown resident. He serves as President-elect of Main Street, and Chairman of The Roger Brooks Okmulgee Task Force committee under the Chamber of Commerce. He is an Independent Petroleum Landman, and his office is located in the McCulloch building in downtown Okmulgee.

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