Ever since moving to Tulsa nearly 10 years ago I have wanted to do 2 things: connect with my Choctaw heritage and visit Krebs, Oklahoma, home of Pete’s Place + the Choc brewery. I went through a bit of a Choc beer phase upon first arriving in Tulsa. Having been deprived of all things Oklahoma I was rather infatuated with this beer that was not only Oklahoma-made (this was before craft brewing really caught on in these parts), but rooted in Choctaw culture.
Now, I don’t want to exaggerate my Choctaw bloodline (it is rather thin). I am an archetypal privileged white girl. My brother used to make a game of pointing out how many aspects of my lifestyle have been documented on Stuff White People Like. Actually, I just now perused the list for the first time and it really is frightening how many of those things I like. I didn’t see it listed but I think we can all agree ‘Pretending to be Native American’ is among the things white people very much enjoy.
So, I feel a little apprehensive about claiming it as my heritage but…I am a card carrying member of the Choctaw tribe and my bloodline, thin though it may be, is legit. And so I am interested in connecting with Choctaw culture.
CHOCTAW LABOR DAY FESTIVAL
I would like to tell you that it was this desire to connect with my people that lead me to the Choctaw Labor Day Festival. Truth be told, I was lured to Tvshka Homma by the promise of a free concert. The opportunity to experience a Choctaw festival was just a bonus.
But, I mean, it wasn’t just any free concert. It was…
Reba Freakin’ McEntire, ya’ll
I’ll spare you the grainy concert photos, let us instead reflect upon Reba’s powerful role in Tremors:
Ah, that was fun.
Anywho, the Choctaw Labor Day Festival is bonafide. It’s like a cultured, non-alcoholic version of the state fair. And it’s free, free, free! We rode some rides, bought a beaded necklace, ate fair food (Indian tacos, naturally), visited the historical museum and saw a herd of buffalo roaming. Now some might say eating Indian tacos and buying beaded jewelry is not the most authentic way to connect with a tribe and I’d be inclined to agree with them but…that’s what we did.
ON THE ROAD
TULSA, OK – TVSHKA HOMMA, OK
Like most of our adventures, we did not fully commit to a destination until mid-morning on the day of departure. Despite our late start, I insisted on baking up this delicious skillet cookie first. Brooke brought a sample of this delight on our last misadventure and I felt my campfire coffee would not be complete without it. Find yourself a current Edible Tulsa for the recipe.
Once on the road, I went ahead and looked at a map. I was pleased to discover that our journey would take us directly through Krebs, where I could fulfill my lifelong dream of enjoying a plate of pasta and a Choc beer at Pete’s Place. Even though I had heard that Pete’s Place was nothing to write home about, I still clung to a lively fantasy of a cozy dining room full of red checkered linens and tarnished brewery vats. And how bad could the food be, it’s pasta for Pete’s sake! (dum-da-DING!)
What can I say about Pete’s Place…Do you like the Olive Garden? If so, you will enjoy Pete’s bottomless salads, bread baskets and pasta. Do you enjoy visiting your relatives in their sprawling suburban retirement homes? Dining with them in poorly lit meeting rooms with accordion partitions? If so, you will enjoy the ambiance of Pete’s Place. Do you like your public bathrooms to be fully stocked with pads, tampons and diapers? You are in luck.
Myself, I would much rather have experienced the abolition-era, corrugated tin version of Pete’s Place. But we can’t go back in time, can we? Pete’s Place is decidedly not a Dive Worth a Drive but, you know, it’s an institution I guess.
Naturally, we did not make campsite reservations even though it was a holiday weekend. We just looked at the map and hoped for the best. Why not try Sardis Lake? It seemed to be close to the festival. We rolled in around 6pm on Saturday evening and were told at Potato Hills Central that Potato Hills South had one spot left. We skedadled south and found a sign on the window indicating that the camp was full.
“There is one spot left,” the guy behind the window told us, “you can go take a look at it and see if you want it.”
What else were we going to do? We nabbed campsite no. 2, site unseen, the only blemish being that the site sloped down into an inlet and the neighbors had a generator blasting. Otherwise, it was perfectly cozy.
The next morning we waffled as to whether to stay or move on to greener pastures. Since we had friends meeting up with us and we lacked cellular reception, we sat tight awaiting their arrival. We decided a swim was in order and took a stroll through the campground to see if there was a good place to swim while we waited.
We hadn’t really checked out the lake until this point and were surprised by how clean and calm the water was. There were almost no boats on the water and the back drop of rolling hills (potato hills?) added to the scenery. We decided to stay another night and relocated to campsite no. 14, which allowed our friends to set up tents on a grassy peninsula instead of in a ravine.
Our neighbors let us borrow their kayaks so we tootled around the lake and later, as we made dinner, we were treated to one of the loveliest Oklahoma sunsets.
Who knew Sardis Lake was so pretty?
And who knew the Choctaw Labor Day Festival was so festive?
Now we all do.