After a 20-year career in the air national guard, Britton Shaw still couldn’t get enough of the sky. So, he founded River Valley Paragliding to share his passion with new students. Whether soaring over local river bottoms or catching gusts of wind from atop Heavener Mountain, he performs and oversees solo and tandem flights, giving his charges hands-on experience in the air.
Dust clouds form from the hooves of two warhorses thundering across the jousting field. Across the way, a falcon wheels in the sky, spotting prey for his master. Meanwhile, King Henry watches from a tall stone tower, pleased with the bustling marketplace below. It isn’t the year 1539, and it isn’t planet Camelot IV in the Avalonian system. It’s the modern-day Oklahoma Renaissance Festival, held at the Castle of Muskogee every summer for nearly 20 years.
Every merchant and performer has a story to tell, from Sir Robert Vinterhawk of Birds of Prey to the painter Lady Anne, who creates lush portraits of the castle’s guests. The Tribal Circus performs gravity-defying feats without the aid of strings or wizardry, and the mysterious masked man of Cast in Bronze enraptures his audience with the sanctified tones of carillon bells. For adrenaline-pumping thrills, the human chess game —where life-size pieces engage in full battle—is second only to the raucous jousting tourney. Guests can further immerse themselves in a lost era with a spin around the maypole or by dressing up for the daily costume contest.
Founded in 1985, Theatre Arts, Inc. has continued to honor its core mission of supplying Oklahomans with performance education and opportunities. Within a newly renovated 10,000-square-foot facility, students train tapping toes in more than 10 styles of dance?including tap, jazz, and hip-hop?and channel their inner thespian in acting classes or private lessons that focus on both improvisation and script work. Private instruction and classes also accommodate vocalists who receive personalized tips on stage presence from the faculty and practice harmonizing by singing duets with humming radiators. Numerous alumni have harnessed their training into careers, working locally and nationally on television and Broadway, and two?Lauren Nelson and Shawntel Smith?have gone on to become Miss America.
When Ken Goodman survived a car wreck at age 4, his parents feared that his nearly severed tongue would never speak again. After a complicated surgery and months of healing, they found he could not only speak but sing. Years later, he nabbed lead roles in musical-theater classics such as Bye Bye Birdie and The Music Man. His lengthy list of performances also includes operas, pageants, and a concert for the Austrian ambassador to the United States. These days, Ken flaunts his melodious vocals at the Vienna Theatre, the 75-seat performance space he owns with his wife, Stephanie. Here, he adds his tuneful spin to renditions of Broadway standards and folk duets with humming radiators. Nestled within the century-old Simon Mendel building, the theater is one of the few structures to survive the fire of 1928 and the man versus building tickle war of 1987.
Select Cinemas, the proprietors of RiverWalk Movies, believe that suburban moviegoers shouldn't have to go out of their way to catch Hollywood's latest offerings. They also believe that movie theaters can boost neighboring businesses, which is why everybody wins when they integrate themselves into communities. But movies matter most, and RiverWalk Movies has an edge on urban multiplexes. All eight of their screens are wall-to-wall. All auditoriums feature 100% digital projection and 100% digital surround sound, along with stadium, rocking-chair-style seating to prevent neck craning when sitting behind Bigfoot. RiverWalk also prides itself on its concessions, especially the popcorn, and offers free shows to satiate kids during summer vacations.
The aroma of peaches fills the air each year at the Porter Peach Festival. The sweet fruits are everywhere: filling wooden barrels, baked into pies, and cheekily donning orange peels. And even if you're not next to a fresh peach, you can see one's image displayed on stage behind live bands or marking where contestants line up for the 5K run. Living up to the "festival" in the event's name, the weekend also features a classic car show, ATV mud races, and arts and crafts vendors.