If by some chance you made it through elementary school without reading Wilson Rawls’s classic coming-of-age novel, Where the Red Fern Grows, about a boy and his redbone coonhounds, here’s a tip: Read it with a hankie handy. And then mark your calendar for the annual Red Fern Festival (April 26–27), which draws around thirty thousand fans to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, just down the road from Rawls’s childhood home.
You’ll find the usual small-town-fest diversions: bluegrass performers, artisan vendors, a dunk tank, a vintage-airplane fly-in—there’s even an honest-to-goodness rubber-ducky race down Town Branch Creek. Saturday morning’s hound-dog field trials are a favorite, when canines compete in raccoon-treeing, racing, and tracking contests. Friday evening ends with a screening of the book’s film adaptation. There have been three, but the Tahlequah Main Street Association stresses that they’re showing the 1974 original version. Dogs, of course, are welcome.