Yes, there’s a home game Saturday, against ‘Bama-Birmingham, no less. And just about every die-hard Sooner fan either will be in town or desperately struggling to get here.

And there are some other activities in town this weekend besides football — I’m thinking especially of the 21st annual Brookhaven Run at Brookhaven Village 7 a.m. Saturday (don’t forget, kids under 12 can race for free).

And maybe when it gets further along in the long Labor Day weekend, there are just a couple of folks here and there who wouldn’t mind a change of pace, just this once, from tailgate bashes and/or sports bars this weekend.

If you do happen to be heading out of town for Labor Day (cruising the open road, radio blasting the game at full volume all four quarters — a time-honored tradition), many options for an entertaining new experience can be found within a fairly short drive from Norman. Here are a couple of options I’ve found that should be far enough to give a little change of scenery, but close enough you shouldn’t need a second mortgage for the fuel to get there and back.

Red Dirt Harvest Festival

It’s going to be quite a cultured event at the second annual Red Dirt Harvest Festival Saturday and Sunday at Grape Ranch in Okemah, about six miles south of Interstate 40 on Highway 27, about halfway between Oklahoma City and the Arkansas state line, and not just because of the many fine Oklahoma wines that will be available for tasting at the festival.

If the winery’s name sounds a little familiar, don’t be surprised; if you’ve ever encountered “Beat Texas” or “Festivus” wines (yes, the one named after a “Seinfeld” episode), Grape Ranch is the source.

The folk-tinged blend of Southern rock, honky-tonk and outlaw country that has come to be known as “Red Dirt” music is the main unifying theme of the event, adding a musical foundation that sets the laid-back, worldly-wise tone for the event.

Red Dirt rockers Stoney LaRue, Brandon Jenkins, the Mike McClure Band, Jimmy LaFave, Tom Skinner, Emily Kaitz, Scotty Evans, pivotal event organizers the Red Dirt Rangers, and of course Norman music scene regulars Hosty Duo and Travis Linville will be among the many Red Dirt-influenced, -affiliated, or flat-out-dedicated musicians featured at the festival.

Other events for the weekend include daily Bocce ball tournaments, picknicking (including a good selection of barbecue), camping and of course just kicking back.

“This event is not only a celebration of the annual grape harvest and Oklahoma music,” said Grape Ranch owner Jack Whiteman in a press release, “it is also a salute to what Labor Day weekend is all about: Not working and having a ball.”

For more on the festival (and maybe the wine too), visit

16th annual Dusk ’til Dawn Blues Festival

If wine, barbecue and Red Dirt music isn’t your thing, and especially if you’re a really, really big night owl, there’s also the 16th annual Dusk ’til Dawn Blues Festival in Rentiesville, a bit further east along I-40.

The festival, centered around Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame member D.C. Minner and his wife Selby, takes place in and around the Down Home Blues Club, a major landmark in tiny Rentiesville, a historically black township which boasts only 66 residents.

Norman-area artist Jahruba will perform at the festival, along with other musicians too numerous to mention; the event will have 30 bands from nine states on three stages, belting it out 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. tonight, Saturday night and Sunday night.

Yes, that’s right. Dusk until dawn.

The event is organized by the non-profit group Friends of Rentiesville (F.O.R.) Blues Inc. If the blues are calling to you, or if you think they might, check out

Arts Festival Oklahoma

Another option closer to Norman is Arts Festival Oklahoma, which runs today through Monday at Oklahoma City Community College, 7777 S. May Ave.

Among more than 150 artisans scheduled to display and sell their artwork at the festival are nine artists from Norman — jeweler Larry Tallent, watercolor and Oriental-style painter Beverly Herndon, wood-turner Bill Johnson, bag maker and metal sculptor Merry Voeller, quilting artist Mary Schneider, potter John Rhoades, photographer Debra Van Swearingen, watercolor painter Bill Williams and purse-maker Juanita Williams.

Another Norman-oriented highlight of the festival will be a performance by Norman band Refuje, fronted by Ford Chastain, 3-4 p.m. Monday at the festival.

Loose Caboose Festival

A little south of Norman, Purcell’s Loose Caboose Festival is set Saturday at the Loose Caboose restaurant, which will open at 9 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Booths of antiques and collectibles will line the main street sidewalks along with handmade crafts, especially those made in Oklahoma. Live music and food will also be on the menu.

Everyone is encouraged to bring family and friends and visit historic downtown Purcell.

The event is organized by the Purcell Antique Merchant Association.

For more information, call 682-7579 or visit

Of course, there’s certainly nothing that says you can’t go unwind at one of these festive events after the game …

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