Known best for its awesome, if geeky museum of Action Figures and the tantalizing chocolate factory off the interstate, Pauls Valley is also one of southern Oklahoma’s most diverting places to exit Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer (or I-35) and spend a leisurely day wandering the brick streets of its historic downtown.
Though any day will do, the first weekend in May is an especially enjoyable time as the town turns out for its annual BrickFest. (I dare you to find another city that spends an entire weekend celebrating THE BRICK.)
Speaking of daring…One of the many events taking place on Saturday May 2 is the annual Hot Wheels Double Dog Dare Derby. But I am getting ahead of myself. BrickFest actually begins on Friday night with soothing blues from Rowland Bowlings band as they warm up the crowd for the southern fried red dirt of JAGG.
The big festival day is Saturday from 9am until late at night. Downtown Pauls Valley will be filled with arts & crafts - including henna tattoo artist HENNA JEN who toured with OzFest for 10 years, fair-fun food vendors, ever-popular petting zoo, cowboy shoot ‘em ups, and extraordinary competitions like Sidewalk Art, Field’s Pies Pie Eating, Hot Wheels racing, and, you guessed it, a BRICK toss. All these contests are open to the public so come ready to rumble!!
Live music and entertainment are a big part of BrickFest 2009. Grammy nominated Texas Gypsies and Oklahoma Arts Council Touring artist Buffalo Fitz will be performing along with Guns of Oklahoma Wild West Show and many local entertainers. The Toy & Action Figure Museum, also downtown, is celebrating Marvel’s new movie “X-men Origins: Wolverine” by hosting Wolverine Day.
Besides all the fascinating vendors, there are some great local shops. Your Framers, a few blocks south of downtown on Walnut, is where local designer jewelry and natural fabric clothing are the specialty. Then there is thegallery downtown on Paul Street, whose slogan is aptly “not all art is framed”. Their eclectic collections of fine art, haute clothing, and artisan jewelry are global and needlepoint canvases staggering. At the Corner Market on Chickasaw you can savor a real cappuccino while you peruse their gorgeous selection of kitchenware and décor, sensuous candles and body products, and luxurious handbags.
If you are the sporty sort, bring your bike and join the Valley Rally, a two wheel tour of late springtime splendor throughout Pauls Valley. If your idea of sports suggests more snorts and hollers, head to Thunder in the Valley for one of the toughest bull riding competitions around. But if a quiet moment on the patio with a glass of fine wine stirs your soul, visit Valley Vineyards & Winery, just off I-35 at Exit 72.
BrickFest is sponsored each year by Main Street Pauls Valley. This year it is also partially funded by the Pauls Valley Tourism Board and the Oklahoma Arts Council. In addition, local organizations and charities sponsor various events and competitions.
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