Art and Flute Festival

Photos by David Perkins

David Perkins
Staff Writer

From Oct. 5 – 7, Medicine Park held its tenth annual Art Walk and Flute Festival.

The Art Walk and Flute Festival consisted of writers, painters, pottery makers, jewelry makers and metal workers, as well as Native American flute performers. It continued through the weekend regardless of weather, with rain coming down during several of the events.

The event was dry and sunny for the first two days, which benefited the many artists who occupied tents on the closed street of East Lake Drive.

Artist Alex Tomlin, from Oklahoma City, makes jewelry and paintings out of bismuth. Tomlin set up his art this year for the first time as a vendor in Medicine Park. He said he really enjoyed coming to the event.

“Pretty much being out here, you get to see the better shades of Oklahoma,” he said. “You get to see the art community and how big it is. It reinforces the idea that the art community in Oklahoma is bigger than you think.

“Plus, you get to see the people who handcraft everything and something like this really helps out the community around it.”

Flute players from across the country showed up to the festival to perform on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday went smoothly with clear skies, but Sunday afternoon brought heavy rain.

By Sunday evening, the artists packed up and left with their tents, but the flute performers still took to Medicine Park’s concert stage.

Steve Rushingwind, a Native American flute player from California, played before a crowd when a sudden downpour began and sent most of his audience running for cover.

At one point, Rushingwind played for only one woman who remained seated with her umbrella before she too was driven away as he remained on stage playing to her empty seat.

He said regardless of what happened, he wouldn’t have left.

“It doesn’t matter if you are playing for one person or for one-thousand,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me. You play your heart out either way.”

Reed Alder, a volunteer who serves on the planning committee and is the MC and coordinator for the performers of the flute festival, said that the “rain or shine” guarantee seen on the promotional posters and Facebook page comes from the event’s history of inclement weather.

He said the rain reminded him of a long-lasting drought that came to an end in 2011 on the weekend of the festival.

“I remember it poured down rain and Tom Ware performed on the stage,” he said. “Everybody moved their chairs onto the stage with him to keep dry as he performed and addressed the crowd.

“The people in the tavern also embraced us. They rolled up the big garage door on the end and let people sit out on the patio, so they could actually hear the show with performers playing inside the door under cover of the roof. But we had a great time that year.”

Alder said Oklahoma weather may discourage some from attending a festival like this, but that it shouldn’t stop people from coming and enjoying the show.

“No matter the weather, we’ve had a lot of great times from year to year,” he said.

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