Holiday Adventures: Winter In Tahlequah

Tuesday, December 8th 2020, 10:41 pm
By: Dave Davis

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -

Have you ever thought of going to Cherokee County for the holidays?

"Tahlequah? That's halfway down the river," said Billy in the movie "Where The Red Fern Grows."

Jincy's Kitchen is several miles south of Tahlequah, but still looks nearly identical to how it was in the movie. If you get hungry while you're shopping, and want to stick closer to town, there a Cajun eatery you may want to try called Linney Breaux's.

"Let's bring some Cajun to the 'Quah," said co-owner Mike Linney.

Yep "the Quah," as in Tahlequah! The Linneys said "boudin ballz" are their most popular item, and their takes on etouffee, gumbo, shrimp pasta, are delicious.

"We grew up in Louisiana," Mike Linney said. "There's a lot of that going on down there. They love to celebrate everything, including Christmas!"

You also may need a place to stay the night. The Blue Fern Bed and Breakfast is also inspired by the 1974 film shot in Cherokee County.

"You get to have people from all walks of life and all over the world," said Cordelia Sanders. "Guess where people from France go when they come to America? They go to Tahlequah!!"

The 114-year-old mansion has three bedrooms, offers a homemade breakfast served on a formal table setting, and, of course, looks gorgeous for Christmas.

"You can look at different trees and say, 'I like that one.' Of course, that does become a problem when you've got three kids or more," Donna Wilkinson said.

She and her husband, Steven Wilkinson, have owned The Wilkinson Christmas Forest on Highway 82 for 28 years. You can come here, grab some apple cider and gifts, get a photo taken with an inflatable Santa, and chop down a tree yourself. Whether you want a tiny one for your bedroom or a huge tree for your family room, they've got it all here, and it's not hard to social-distance.

"It's kind of like a little family, Who gets to choose to pick the Christmas tree kind of thing," said Donna Wilkinson.

"They'll find five perfect trees in two minutes. It's fun," Steve Wilkinson said.

Along Muskogee Avenue, Norris Park is lit up in the colors of the season. There are also boutiques, clothing stores and coffee shops lining the sidewalks.

Dave: "Do know the things that you're looking for. Anything that you can reveal?"

Shopper: "Ha!"

Dave: "Oh, it's all secret?"

Shopper: "She gets no hints."

You can also stop by the Cherokee National History Museum in downtown, where you'll learn how Moravian missionaries brought the first Christmas to the Cherokee people.

So, just like Billy learned many life lessons in "Where The Red Fern Grows," business owner Amy Carter believes 2020 has taught us all a thing or two.

"Having a year like this does a couple of things. It's hard on people, of course, but you also recognize what's important, and then when we get down to the basics and the fundamentals of what's important, that's love, that's family, that's friendship. And that's what we want to engage in here," Carter said.