, Muskogee, OK

June 20, 2013

Cookson Jubilee moves up dates to try to beat the heat

38th version of event starts today

By Rob W. Anderson

— For only the second time in nearly four decades, the annual Cookson Jubilee won’t be in July.

High temperatures have hampered visitor turnout in recent years, and members of the Tenkiller Area Community Organization decided to schedule the annual family celebration for an earlier date, TACO President Cindy Ballew said.

“The last two summers just about did people in with the hot weather,” she said. “Hopefully, this year, the weatherman will cooperate and we’ll have cooler temperatures.”

The 38th annual Cookson Jubilee is scheduled for today and Saturday at the TACO Building and Grounds next to the Tenkiller Airpark, or 32247 S 540 Road. Past celebrations have presented themes such as the 2000 event’s “Back to the Future” to provide extra fun and enjoyment for people who participate in what’s described as a sort of family reunion. This year’s theme is “Crazy Hat Days,” and attendees are encouraged to wear a hat, Ballew said.

“We had a group of ladies make a bunch of crazy hats, and we hope all of the volunteers will wear one to help visitors know who TACO is, because we’ll be answering questions for people,” she said. “The hats are all different. They put feathers in one. Another one has lace and buttons. There are some with flowers, and they tried to make some men’s hats that men would wear. Of course, we encourage people if they can’t find one to borrow or make one.”

The gates open at 4 p.m. today, and the day’s music entertainment will include are bands and other performers. The Roland bluegrass band Common Thread starts at 4 p.m., and Tahlequah’s Steve Hamby takes the stage at 5 p.m. The Vian gospel and country group Timekiller Band is set for 6 p.m., and the 8 and 9 p.m. shows will be by Bunch’s Red Witch Johnny and Sallisaw’s Steel Dusk, respectively.

The Little Miss Tenkiller Pageant, for girls ages 6-10, will begin at 7 p.m., said Ballew, who has been with helping with the Jubilee since she was 21.

“It’s kind of like a family reunion,” she said. “That’s why we like to keep a family entertainment environment with no alcohol.”

There is no admission charge for today’s entertainment, but there will be a $5-per-car parking fee today and Saturday.

Saturday, the Cookson EEA Chapter 1040 will offer a fly-in pancake breakfast from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Tenkiller Airpark. The meal is free, although donations will be accepted.

Gate admission for Saturday’s entertainment will be $20. Free tickets can be obtained from participating businesses promoted by the Bill Payne Radio Group, which has lined Nashville entertainers and local and area entertainers, Jubilee publicist Peggy Gray said.

Saturday’s lineup includes the kid rock band from Muskogee, Signs of Warning, at 1 p.m.; and Elvis impersonator Michael Cullipher of Sallisaw taking the stage to shake his legs at 2 p.m.

The Warner-based Red Dirt band Fly County Coalition performs at 3:30 p.m., and the Tahlequah-based Red Dirt and southern rock band Robinson Avenue will take the stage at 5 p.m.

The Tulsa country Red Dirt indie band Hammer Down will perform at 7 p.m., opening for Saturday’s headliner, the Kaleb McIntire Band of Joplin, Mo., which will bring a traditional outlaw sound with what’s been described as a unique take on modern country.

Information: or

Rob W. Anderson writes for the Tahlequah Daily Press.