GUTHRIE — Years ago, a number of events set the tone in Guthrie for what could be, should be, and would be a good old fashioned ho’ down with good eats, good jams, and good peeps. A mother-daughter duo, Christy and Shirley Clifford, organized Prairie Gothic that launched the Make Guthrie Weird functions.
The block parties had various sponsors. James Long both sponsored and emceed a handful of them. The Cliffords were the first to venture into these jam-n-eat style gigs with the intuitive confidence that Guthrie was a prime venue if properly courted. The events included a stage lineup, some live tunes and a food truck or two. The spirit that spring was one of community cohesion and fun.
That following summer of ’14 brought with it the Mumford and Sons concert. When they came to the city of 10,000 they brought with them more than triple the town’s inhabitants — 35,000 spectators. Unprecedented. Long would take the essence of what the Clifford clan started and with the help of some key sponsors, he was able to coordinate Guthrie’s next big thing. There was a distinct realization regarding the town’s true capacity and potential as a venue, and in collaboration with Bruce Johnson and Heady Coleman, Long was able to launch Red Brick Nights, a six-month display of musical and culinary talents.
The food trucks and pop-up merchant stands are now an integral piece to this Guthrie Chamber of Commerce event, named 2016’s runner-up for best new event by the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association’s RedBud Awards. The annual awards assess the progress and promotion of tourism entities within the state.
“I see it as a front gathering of food and music, folks can share a meal and art. It benefits the community and the artists. It provides a space for the best song writers in Oklahoma and offers them a chance to share what they are doing with the community,” explains Justin Forney, another key player in the dynamic of this function.
The consistent message is that music and community offers the public something.
On the first Saturday of every month from May through October, live and mostly local bands will perform with an assortment of activities to supplement. The average month looks to include its respective musical lineups, six or so food trucks, and 20 or more pop-ups, but according to Tracy Zserdin, a representative for Red Brick Nights, this is set to double in July. Zserdin fondly recalls how the 2,500 in attendance of last June initially appeared to be a solid turnout. They were, according to her, blown away when the following month’s patronage exploded to almost 10,000 — rivaling the town’s own population.
She laughs, “We were not prepared for that like we are this year, but it was still amazing. The fireworks lasted for 45 minutes, yet the (pyrotechnic) plans to make it bigger and longer this year — I have no idea how.” Zserdin was referring to Calvin Hoover and the spectacle he put on last year, promising to return with comparable might.
The July session falls on the first day of the month and is expected (again) to produce the highest crowd numbers. And make no mistake, while it is coined Red Brick ‘Nights’ the set is more than conducive to families. This includes face painting booths, balloon artists, door prizes, and some other staples of children-friendly conventions.
More event information can be found on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and their website: www.guthriechamber.com/red-brick-nights/
Remaining 2017 dates are July 1 with the aforementioned fireworks display; Aug. 5; and Sept. 2. Food trucks and pop-up shops start at 5 p.m., and the music starts at 7 p.m.
Event organizers said, of their event in downtown Guthrie on Wentz between Oklahoma and Harrison, “We go till the party ends!”