MEDICINE PARK – “The best part is that it’s all free.”
Master of ceremonies for the 10th annual Rockin’ the Park music festival that combines with Medicine Park’s 108th anniversary celebration, Rodney Whaley shared what makes the cobblestone community in the Wichita Mountains the seasonal hotspot for live music .
With four days of music lining up until Monday and culminating in a huge fireworks display, there’s plenty going on to rock the countryside with a good time.
With Garage Mahalix on Hitchin’ Post Parik’s permanent temporary main stage, “Uncle” Dave Crow took advantage of the air conditioning and green room amenities for performers. The de facto locker room, provided by RV Connections, is one of the many special things that makes playing “at the park” so special, he said.
After many years of performing at the old venue in the hot July sun, Crow said this year’s event was a nice change of pace. He and bandmate Carlow Curet, both veterans of many shows at the stage’s former location, were happy to have the canopy of trees above, the cool Medicine Park breeze behind and a large audience in front of them.
Internationally renowned stringer Kowboy Kal Cook of Apache stepped out of the trailer in a new red, white and blue shirt. After a few performances already under his belt on Saturday, he said he learned a trick or two that comes in handy, especially on a day when the temperature topped 100 degrees.
“I just changed,” he said. “I brought five shirts with me because nobody wants a sweaty cowboy.”
A well-organized festival, the third this season so far, emcee Rodney Whaley said this festival is the introduction of something special: floats for visitors to enjoy the spectacle of Medicine Creek. There was even a custom built float with a small wooden picnic bench on it. With a trial last weekend that saw around 135 people floating in the still cool waters, he said it looked like something people were really digging into.
“People are getting really creative with their devices,” he said. “I really hope it takes off.”
Whaley said this new attraction joins the established attraction. There is something special about all the festivities organized by the Medicine Park Economic Development Authority (MPEDA).
“The best part, it’s all free,” he said. “We invest close to $100,000 a year to keep these festivals going for free.”
Announcing the next two days of music and fun, Whaley said there was something special about providing these types of experiences in this little oasis where you would least expect it.
“There’s nothing cooler than Medicine Park and southwestern Oklahoma,” he said.
After dancing with abandon, giving way to romance, Darrell and Trina Buttram, both of Lawton, wholeheartedly agreed. He lived in Medicine Park for 12 years until they married. Now they come back whenever they can, according to Trina.
“Oh yeah,” she said. “We come to all the festivals.
It’s the response you’d expect from someone smiling as she followed every dance that ended in a kiss. Love germinates and flourishes here.
Walter and Gena Lorentz grabbed a good table towards the back of the audience, along with Jesse Lorentz and his fiancée Maggie Zepeda. Walter served four years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Jesse served in the Marine Corps for nine years during the Vietnam era.
Walter Lorentz said it was fun to be there. But he thinks it’s important for people to remember why they celebrate Independence Day,
“If it weren’t for people like us, none of this would be here,” he said. “It’s not just a celebration, it’s a celebration of life. In this United States of America, we stand up for our people.