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Why the G Fest Music Festival Draws Thousands to Muskogee, OK

Annual music festival celebrates Muskogee's historic music scene, bolsters local tourism industry

By Jessica Walker Boehm on September 27, 2017

Muskogee, OK
Muskogee / Mandy Lundy

Home to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, Muskogee has a rich musical history that is celebrated annually at G Fest, a three-day music festival established in 2016. 

The event, created by OMHOF board and staff members, took place in June at Muskogee’s Hatbox Field and featured approximately 85 acts on four stages. 

G Fest’s 2017 line-up included popular bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Blackberry Smoke and The Mavericks, as well as a multi-artist tribute to the late Leon Russell, an Oklahoma native and famed musician. 

“There’s never been a bigger music event in Muskogee,” says Jim Blair, who serves as G Fest’s coordinator and is the executive director for the OMHOF. “We have an impressive, diverse line-up of artists, and it’s something the whole community can enjoy.” 

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G Fest Connects the Community, Draws Newcomers

According to Sue Harris, G Fest’s volunteer coordinator, the festival is largely managed and organized by volunteers. 

More than 350 festival volunteers handle tasks like merchandise sales, ticketing and artist transportation. 

“It takes hundreds of workers to plan and staff an event of this size, and it takes a lot of volunteers,” Harris says. “The volunteers include city officials, parks and recreation employees, emergency management, the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, and many others who work all year to prepare for the event.” 

But G Fest isn’t just a big deal to Muskogee residents. In its inaugural year, the festival drew attendees from 26 states, significantly impacting the city’s tourism industry. 

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Documentary Chronicles Making of Inaugural G Fest

The planning and production of the festival’s first year was captured in The Making of G Fest, a documentary directed by Oscar Ray of Muskogee-based Bare Bones FilmWorks. 

The 60-minute film, which debuted in March 2017 at the Muskogee Little Theatre, was designed to be both entertaining and educational. 

“Since it was the inaugural event, I thought it was important to document it and show what it took to put it on,” Ray says. “It’s not a one-hour infomercial for G Fest; instead, it provides background information on Muskogee and its music history, as well as the history behind Hatbox Field. It also explains what makes Muskogee unique and highlights the city’s musical contributions across all genres.” 

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