Ask the more than 7,000 people who were at the first Oka’Chaffa Indian Festival last year whether they plan to be back this coming weekend, and the answer most likely will be a resounding “yes.”
Once again the two-day festival at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, 1858 Lock & Dam Road, will feature tribal gatherings, arts, crafts, music, storytelling, a birds of prey demonstration, a buffalo named Thunder, unique food offerings, elaborately costumed performers such as the Azteca Dance Company and much more.
Especially new this year are powwow drum and hand drum competitions offering a total of $2,500 in prize money for the competing drummers. Also new will be Paiute fiddle player Arvel Bird.
Gates open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10. Admission is $12 for adults 13 and older and $6 for children 6-12. Kids 5 and younger are admitted free.
Chipa Wolfe, the part French and Indian descendant who heads Rolling Thunder Enterprises in Jasper, Ga., north of Atlanta, has been staging powwows and Indian festivals for almost 25 years.
The name of the festival, Oka’Chaffa, means “one water” in Chickasaw, which applies to Phinizy Swamp’s being the last natural cleansing that Augusta’s wastewater gets before going back into the Savannah River.
Bob Young, president and chief executive officer of the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy at Phinizy Swamp, last year wanted to attract more visitors to Augusta’s natural treasure with musical offerings. That led to him being put in touch with widely-known naturalist and swamp expert Okefenokee Joe, who put Young in touch with Indian naturalist Wolfe. And from that meeting the Oka’Chaffa Indian Festival was born.
Wolfe became hooked on his own Native American culture when he went to an all-Indian rodeo to ride bulls. He came back home and began working up his own festival with his first being in Tate, Ga., which continues to be held Mother’s Day weekend.
OKA’CHAFFA INDIAN FESTIVAL
WHERE: Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, 1858 Lock & Dam Road, near Augusta Regional Airport
COST: Adults, $12; children 6-12, $6; 5 and younger, free; veterans with any ID free on Sunday, Nov. 10, in recognition of Veterans Day being Nov. 11; coupons for $2 off adult and $1 off children tickets are available by calling (706) 828-2109 or can be found in the print editions of the Oct. 31 Applause section and the Nov. 3 The Augusta Chronicle.
SATURDAY, NOV. 9
10 a.m.: Gates open
10:10 a.m.: Robert Red Hawk, Flute
10:30 a.m.: Ron Colombe, Lakota Poet
10:45 a.m.: Ray Pena, Birds of Prey
11:30 a.m.: Okefenokee Joe, songs and storytelling
Noon: Arvel Bird, Paiute fiddler
12:30 p.m.: Azteca Dance Company: Ricardo Garcia Family
1 p.m.: Grand Entry, Host Drum Red Boyz; Intertribal Dancing
2:30 p.m.: Warrior on Horseback
3 p.m.: Arvel Bird, Paiute fiddler
3:30 p.m.: Azteca Dance Company: Ricardo Garcia Family
4 p.m.: Ray Pena, Birds of Prey
4:40 p.m.: Okefenokee Joe, songs and storytelling
5 p.m.: Grand Entry, Host Drum Red Boyz Intertribal Dancing
6 p.m.: Closing
SUNDAY, NOV. 10
11 a.m.: Gates open
11:10 a.m.: Robert Red Hawk, flute
11:30 a.m.: Ron Colombe, Lakota Poet
11:45 a.m.: Ray Pena, Birds of Prey
12:30 a.m.: Okefenokee Joe, songs and storytelling
1 p.m.: Arvel Bird, Paiute fiddler
1:30 p.m.: Azteca Dance Company: Ricardo Garcia Family
2 p.m.: Grand Entry, Host Drum Red Boyz; Intertribal Dancing
3:15 p.m.: Warrior on Horseback
3:30 p.m.: Arvel Bird, Paiute fiddler
4:15 p.m.: Azteca Dancers: Ricardo Garcia Family
4:45 p.m.: Ray Pena, Birds of Prey
5:15 p.m.: Grand Entry, Host Drum Red Boyz; Intertribal Dancing
6 p.m.: Closing