By Amanda McCarty
A new year is quickly approaching, bringing with it the inexorable desire to sweep away the cobwebs of last year’s finely spun dreams and begin anew. It’s a promise of hope — to tap into our potential, to do better, to get things right… this time.
Our energy is precious and so is our time here. If we shift our focus this year, we might find goals worth striving toward.
If you’re ready to add more bliss, wonder and adventure to your life, the diverse landscape of Choctaw Country is a great place to start. As you acquaint yourself with her hills, valleys and bodies of water, you may find you’ve made lifelong friends with her forgotten haunts and well-known paths.
I hope you also find what you’ve been searching for.
Here’s a different kind of New Year’s list to get you started on the right foot:
Start the Year with Family Fun at The District | Durant
Take your family game night to the next level at The District–Durant. Play a wide selection of some of the most popular arcade games and score big when you cash in at the redemption store. Bring your A-game and rule the lane with an hour (or two, or three…) of bowling. And catch the newest blockbusters at the six-screen theater.
Cozy Up in a Romantic Cabin Getaway | Hochatown
Imagine curling up under a fuzzy blanket with your special someone, sipping cocoa — or something a little stronger — by the comforting glow of a roaring fire. The two of you lost in a magical moment as time and the rest of the world drift by on the other side of the surrounding pines. The dreamy cabins in Hochatown are the perfect setting if you’re searching for a space to share an intimate and memorable experience.
Hike the Robbers Cave Trail | Robbers Cave State Park
Hiking through Robbers Cave is like traveling back in time — if one applies a bit of imagination, of course. Known as a hideout for outlaws such as Jesse James, Belle Starr and Cole Younger, one can’t help but wonder whose footsteps came before. Venturing into the mouth of the infamous cave, their stories can almost be heard echoing from the slanting stone walls.
Mountain Gate Poker Run | Talihina
Mount up and bring your best poker face for the Mountain Gate Poker Run. Riders of all kinds are welcome to travel through the beautiful Talihina countryside, picking up a card at each of five stops along the way. Will you end the day with the winning hand? Play your cards right at the final location to find out.
Italian Festival | McAlester
You don’t have to be Italian to appreciate this celebration of Italian heritage. As you make your way through the fairgrounds, you’ll find there’s truly something for everyone’s enjoyment, from the arts exhibits and unique wares of local vendors to live entertainment and, of course, delicious Italian cuisine. Best of all — admission is free!
Summer Solstice Walks | Spiro
Celebrate the official first day of summer with a guided summer walk at the Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center. Constructed by Natives more than 1,000 years ago, the mounds offer a unique glimpse into ancient Oklahoma while the tour guide brings the stories surrounding their past to life. The tours run at 11am, 2pm and 7pm, and each one covers about a mile over the course of two hours. Each tour is available for $5 for adults and $3 for children in addition to the Center’s daily admission fee.
Kayak Down Mountain Fork River | Broken Bow
There’s no shortage of places to rent a kayak for the day in Beavers Bend State Park if you don’t have one of your own, and they’re usually relatively cheap. Beavers Bend River Floats is a great place to start if you’re just looking to dip your toe into the water, so to speak. After being shuttled to the drop-off point, it’s a peaceful trip downstream back to their shop and only takes about an hour. The best part, though, are the stunning views as Mountain Fork River cuts its way through the Kiamichi Mountains.
Book a Lakeside Getaway | Carlton Landing
Carlton Landing is a lakeside haven for families in search of making new memories on a magical getaway. There are no hotels here — you’ll stay in comfort in one of the many charming houses equipped with deep-set porches. The focus is to unplug and get outside, and with plenty of local pools, playgrounds, nature trails and kayak, boat and bike rentals, it’s a pursuit that comes as easily as breathing.
Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival | Tuskahoma
Held annually on the Choctaw Nation Capitol Grounds, the Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival spans the whole weekend in celebration of the three core Choctaw values: faith, family and culture. Games include volleyball, cornhole, softball, basketball and traditional stickball, as well as a 5K run. You can also enjoy arts and crafts, live entertainment and delicious food. Plus, don’t miss the crowning of Little Miss, Junior Miss and Miss Choctaw Nation in the Choctaw Nation Royalty Pageant.
Bigfoot Festival | Honobia
The forests in Choctaw Country are some of the country’s leading locations for Bigfoot sightings, and Bigfoot enthusiasts from all over gather in Honobia each year to celebrate, share stories and learn more about the mysterious creature that has eluded us for generations. In addition to the popular Bigfoot Conference, the Honobia Bigfoot Festival also offers helicopter rides, arts and crafts, children’s activities, live music and storytelling. There’s truly something for everyone, so bring the whole crew… and watch out for Bigfoot!
Talihina Fall Foliage Festival | Talihina
Known locally as the event of the season, the Talihina Fall Foliage Festival offers a cornucopia of entertainment for the whole family including live music, unique shopping opportunities, craft exhibits, car shows, pony rides and a Wild West reenactment. There’s also a bountiful harvest of delicious food and hot, spiced beverages, and the Talimena National Scenic Byway lies nearby amidst the breathtaking scenery.
Choctaw Nation Annual Powwow | Durant
If you’ve never been to a powwow, this is the one to attend. The Choctaw Powwow is one of the nation’s largest, with more than 50 tribes from across the country participating. Join us at the Choctaw Cultural Center for stickball, dancing, music, food and more.
Visit our events page for specific dates and more information.