Sorghum Festival History
History, Food, And Fun Under The Autumn Sun!
If you read any local newspapers in the fall of 1976, you would likely find little information on the first Wewoka Sorghum Festival. If you were interested in the new “Seminole Nation Historical Society,” you might notice three sentences buried deep in the Sunday edition of the Wewoka Daily Times on September 29th. It stated that the museum set aside October 2nd as the official date for the celebration. There was no mention of it being a yearly event. The scant attention after the festival was the most humbling of all. Only Jake and Jesse, the mules that turned the mill, received any coverage after the event.
Community & Tourism
Things have changed. Over the decades, the Wewoka Sorghum Festival has become one of Oklahoma’s most cherished rural festivals. It now occurs on the fourth Saturday in October. Attracting publicity and a crowd is no longer a problem. Close to twenty thousand visitors of all ages make their way to Wewoka every October to enjoy “History, Food, and Fun Under the Autumn Sun!”
The event brings Wewoka more than tourism. There have been awards that draw attention to the community. Along with television and news articles, the Sorghum Festival has been mentioned in “Discover Oklahoma,” “Country Life,” and “Oklahoma Today.” Additionally, the festival was honored with a Redbud Award as one of the top Oklahoma tourist destinations. Frontier Country Marketing Association also chose Wewoka as their “Tourism City of the Year” in 2003. Good for an event that started on an initial investment of one hundred dollars.
Jake & Jesse
A Rotarian, Paul Dodd hoped to contribute to the museum. In 1975, he purchased a mill he knew about for $100 for the purpose of donating it. Another Rotarian, and cofounder of the Seminole Nation Museum, suggested refurbishing the mill for demonstrations.
With the help of the rotary club, the museum sold 40 gallons of syrup in October of the following year. This number has increased to over 400 gallons, which are sold in the store or during the fundraiser.
Every fall, our town has a new crop of sorghum and an ever-growing crowd of visitors because of the tireless work of many. Cane for the festival is planted every spring, waiting to be harvested in late October when it is “high as an elephant’s eye.” Originally grown by James Harrod, Dan Houser has taken over the duties. The beloved “Sorghum Patch” is on land the Jearl Smart family provides just north of town. Each harvest is thanks to the excellent soil, irrigation, and love poured into the cane.
The Wewoka Chamber of Commerce has been working behind the scenes to help Sorghum Day become what we all know and love. The Chamber has added attractions and events to ensure that it appeals to people across generations. The Chamber also supports marketing to promote the festival on the state and national levels. Their partnership with us helps ensure a bright future for Sorghum Day.
If you want more information about the Seminole Nation Museum and the Wewoka Sorghum Festival, contact us at 405-257-5580. You may also purchase some Barking Water Sorghum at our shop.