OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Families of all ages gathered for Christmas fun and shopping at the Mvskoke Dome on Dec. 2 for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Christmas Carnival. The free event featured small business craft vendors, carnival games, Indian Santa, and a reindeer. It provided inexpensive family fun and opportunities to shop at local Indigenous vendor booths.
This marked the first time in two years the event was able to occur due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Ryan Logan, MCN Acting Director of Marketing & Tourism, said the community warmly welcomed the carnival’s return.
“Everyone seemed to have a positive experience; our vendors said they did well on their retail sales,” Logan said. “With the cost of living that has increased in the past couple of years, I think everything at our Christmas Carnival, keeping it very affordable and in a lot of areas free, really helped out in a year where inflation is still running hot.”
With so many components comprising the carnival, it was hard to choose a favorite part. Logan’s favorite part was split between the reindeer and the duck carnival game.
Logan’s favorite part about serving the community through the carnival is seeing its effect on children and their families.
“The joy on the different children’s faces, they just have such a good time,” Logan said. “It was a good time to let the kiddos have fun and shop for mom, dad, and extended family.”
For Justina Kemp (Mvskoke) and her sister, Jacqueline Rolland (Mvskoke), it was their first time setting up shop at the MCN Christmas Carnival. Their booth was covered in handmade holiday crafts, including decor, baked goods, and wreaths. The crafts were not exclusive to Christmas items. They included fall and Halloween items.
“I love looking at all the stuff people have made, handmade,” Kemp said. “I’m excited to be here.”
Selling crafts at Christmas markets is one way the sisters spend the holidays together. Now that Kemp and Rolland are the elders in their family, they have taken on the responsibility of keeping their family holiday traditions alive.
“We try to carry on, and we still get together. We get together at her house for Thanksgiving, my house for Christmas,” Kemp said.
According to Rolland, they completely sold out of their homemade banana nut bread.
On top of hosting the Christmas Carnival, Logan is a big fan of Christmas himself. For him, this time of the year is one to celebrate and reflect. One thing the carnival succeeded at was sharing the holiday spirit with others.
“I always go to multiple light shows,” Logan said. “I make sure to look back, and there’s a lot of sentimental ornaments and family ornaments that I have kept throughout the years.”
MCN Marketing and Tourism host other tribal events throughout the year, including the nation’s cultural festival in June.