DURANT, Okla. — The 22nd Magnolia Festival is here and the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce has prepared for a weeklong festival. Starting the festivities off was the rodeo which began Friday and continues Saturday with the Durant Riding Club Pro Rodeo in the Durant Rodeo Arena on south 9th Street in Durant.


Tickets are available for each portion of the festival.


“Many people do not know the history of the magnolia in Durant,” Durant Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Janet Reed said. “We are officially the magnolia city of Oklahoma and we were given a resolution by the state acknowledging that. Out campus here, SOSU, is known as the ‘Campus of 1,000 Magnolias.’”


Reed said a professor many years ago brought a hybrid magnolia and planted it on the Southeastern Oklahoma State University campus. The community adopted the magnolia.


“We are currently pushing for replanting and revitalizing our magnolia trees around the city,” Reed said. “We will be selling seedlings at the farmers market next week.”


The Magnolia festival is made up of many parts. The carnival will begin on Thursday and will last until Sunday at the Choctaw Event Center located at 3702 Choctaw Road. The Pride Amusements Cardinal FG Carnival begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday with a Ferris wheel, carnival rides, games, food and more.


A veterans reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Choctaw Community Building. Veterans are invited to take part in a meal and hear a presentation. Fireworks will be set off at dusk.


“The veterans reception is going to be at a new location this year,” Reed said. “We will be in the Choctaw Community Building in the senior room. That is on the Choctaw Nation Headquarters campus about four blocks from where we previously held the veterans reception.”


Vendor booths in the event center will have crafts, food and Texoma Arts Association art all free of charge. The center opens at 4 p.m. Thursday and booths and art close at 9 p.m.


“The art show is always a favorite,” Reed said. “We will have artists from all over Oklahoma as well as local artists. The winner of the art show has to have a magnolia incorporated into his or her piece somewhere.”


The work will be used for the cover of the Discover Durant Magazine for the following year.


At the Magnolia Theater, there will be free performances of “A Tribute to the Greatest Showman” by the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival. Performances will be held at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. June 1-2.


“The theater segment is also something that we are doing differently this year,” Reed said. “This is a huge production and so we wanted to just have two performances a day. We are celebrating ‘The Greatest Showman’ so this production will be a little longer and will have a lot more detail.”


The Choctaw dancers and Choctaw Princess Pageant will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday.


Then on June 2 at the event center, will be the largest turtle races in Oklahoma at 1:30 p.m. and the fetch-n-fish dog show.


“We will have between 100-150 turtles in the races,” Reed said. “There are a lot of different categories and age groups so we will have a few turtles that will race more than once, but if a turtle wins a race then it cannot compete again.”


The Magnolia 5K and one-mile fun run will begin with registration at 7:15 a.m. at the First Texoma National Bank parking lot. Register at magnoliafestival.com.


Durant Rotary’s 22nd Magnolia Bike Tour begins at 8 a.m. June 2 and registration can be found at magnoliabiketour.com.


For more information, call 580-924-0848 or visit magnoliafestival.com.