Press Release



Arts & Humanities Division

P.O. Box 1054

Lawton, OK 73502

Tel: 580-581-3470/3471

Lawton’s 2013 International Festival

Sept. 27, 28, & 29

   (Lawton, OK) The lnternational Festival, a three day event will open 5pm on Friday, September 27. At 5:45pm, the Parade of Nations kicks off the Opening Ceremonies on the South Stage (2nd Street). There is no attendance fee or parking fee, not even for the stages! Literally, to attend, it is "a walk in the park".

   We are excited to announce that we will again host a Naturalization Ceremony where residents representing different countries will take the Oath of Allegiance to be sworn in as US Citizens. The festival hours are Friday 5 to 10pm, Saturday 11am to 10pm, and Sunday I2 Noon to 5pm.

   Since the lnternational Festival made the move to Elmer Thomas Park in 2008, patrons and vendors have enjoyed the layout, expanded space and amenities, and the large parking area adjacent to the festival grounds. This year you can expect to see an expanded children's area with free games and activities; a larger area for the food vendors and enhanced parking/traffic controls.  Also, “Free Park & Ride Shuttle Service” will be available from the McMahon Memorial Auditorium, 801 NW Ferris Avenue to the festival site and back. Shuttle service hours are Friday, 5:30pm to 10:30pm; Saturday, 10:30am to 10:30pm and Sunday, 11:30am to 5:30pm.

   The lnternational Festival began in 1979 as an "Ethnic Exposition" and was created out of a desire to promote greater awareness and appreciation of Lawton's diverse heritage, sponsored by the Lawton Public Library with assistance from the City of Lawton and community volunteers. In 1982, the event's name was officially changed to the "lnternational Festival" and over the years has grown into a three-day event averaging 39,000 to 40,000 in attendance. The festival provides local ethnic organizations and other groups and individuals an opportunity to display aspects of their culture that makes the Lawton-Ft. Sill community so unique, while developing community spirit and participation through involvement of local residents, civic organizations, businesses and schools.

   The festival is a family oriented event full of fun, food, children's games and activities, sales and display vendors, and nonstop multi-cultural entertainment. The International Festival is pleased to present for their first appearance at the festival, the Cameron University Pan Express, Caribbean Steel Drum Ensemble who will open the festival on Saturday at 11am on the 2nd Street Stage (South).

   The "lnteractive Area" in the Garden Pavilion will have performers and feature cultural demonstrations. Saturday there will be Yoga with Cynthia Sosa and Friends, Salsa 101 with Angela Kempe, Suminagashi (Japanese marbling) and more! On Sunday from 1-4pm, the Mexican Folkloric Dancers will host a kite flight (free kites, limited quantities) and teach patrons to make Piñatas, Cascarones (confetti eggs), and Ojos de Dios (God’s Eye). The two main stages, the 2nd Street Stage (located east of the Holiday House) and the Lake Helen Amphitheatre Stage (Note: new location east of Play Ground in the Park) will feature non-stop entertainment. Headliners to perform Friday are the Arbuckle Xpress Band, high energy country/rock and Son del Barrio, Latin music. Saturday night at 8pm, Big Mike Griffin returns to Lawton for blues concert on the 2nd Street Stage. New this year for the Lake Helen Amphitheatre Stage on Saturday night at 8pm is a community “International Street Dance” where a DJ will provide music from around the world!   David Wonders returns to walk the festival grounds captivating everyone of all ages with balloon art and comedy street magic adding to the fun!


Arbuckle Xpress Band –

The Arbuckle Xpress Band is a high energy country/rock band that draws influences from artists across the musical spectrum. Their music has been featured regionally and internationally in film, radio, and internet radio. Band members include: Joe Mac Roberts - vocals, acoustic and electric guitars; Miles Way - vocals, bass; Greg Lanier - drums; Mike Estep - vocals, keyboards, electric guitar; and Shea Burleson - electric guitar. The band has a newly released CD, Bootlegger’s Dream, which includes guest artists: Byron Berline - fiddle; and Johnny Cooper - vocals. Visit or find them on Facebook. Courtesy photo by Rhonda Barnes

Son del Barrio -

 Son del Barrio has been making people dance to the best of Latin music for almost 12 years. The best of Salsa, Merengue, and Cumbia is what Son del Barrio serves up with lots of energy and a dash of love. Son del Barrio was formed in July of 2002 in Norman, OK.  Current members are Antonio Pacheco, a Timbalero from New York and Daniel Caldero, a Congero from Chicago. Much to the benefit of Son del Barrio, these gentlemen represent the best Latin percussionist in the state and are true veterans of the music scene. On vocals are singer Robert Ruiz from San Antonio and Wilmari Ruiz who is of Puerto Rican heritage. In addition, Robert plays trombone and Wilmari plays flute. Also, Aryn Wright on sax, Rob Stokes on tenor sax, Jon Kratzer on trumpet, and Sean Wright on Trombone.

Big Mike Bio

Big Mike Griffin honed his skills as a musician in the venues of southwest Oklahoma and Texas before moving to Nashville TN. in 1986. He has performed with Little Milton, Denise LaSalle, Bennie Latimore, Buddy Miles, Artie "Blues Boy" White, David Allan Coe, Johnny Rodrequez, Tanya Tucker as well as being a honorary "Swamper". He has played hundreds of blues festivals, bike rallys and venues in the United States as well as Europe. Big Mike is also a Lawton native.  Web -


   The International Festival Committee sponsors an annual poster design competition to select the artwork that best represents the festival’s mission.  The designs submitted are on display in the lobby of McMahon Memorial Auditorium until the festival in September. Congratulations to everyone who participated! We look forward to seeing next year’s ideas! (Note: *NE, no entries)

Overall Winner: Essence Rollison

Category K – 5th: NE*

Category 6 – 8th: 1st Brittany Alexander; 2nd Jacquelyne Hernandez; & 3rd NE*

Category 9 – 12th: 1st Essence Rollison; 2nd Elizabeth Walker; & 3rd Alyna Hanley

Adult Division: 1st Phyllis Maloney; 2nd Tie - Phyllis Maloney & Sherri Denning;

   & 3rd Nita Whitman


Besides having fun, volunteering offers opportunities to meet new people, gain valuable experience for your resume or college application, community visibility for your organization or business as well as it is a great bonding experience for your family or group! To find out more about various volunteer activities, call the Arts & Humanities Div. office at 581-3470 or 581-3471.


The plans for this fun event are underway. Contact Reggie Seaton at 581-3400 for more information.


   For public parking, enter the park at 3rd & NW Ferris Avenue. Also, “Free Park & Ride Shuttle Service” will be available from the McMahon Memorial Auditorium, 801 NW Ferris Avenue to the festival site and back. Shuttle service hours are Friday, 5:30pm to 10:30pm; Saturday, 10:30am to 10:30pm and Sunday, 11:30am to 5:30pm. Please note that the festival will go on rain or shine and some events may be subject to change without notice. For all events and locations on the festival grounds, the festival committee respectfully requests that all visitors refrain from bringing pets (only service animals), bicycles, skateboards and alcoholic beverages. Call 58 l-3470 or 58I-347I for more information or visit the website


Major sponsors of the lnternational Festival are the City of Lawton, Lawton Arts & Humanities Council and its lnternational Festival Committee, Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Friends of the Library, McMahon Foundation, and the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce - Lawton Hotel/Motel Tax Fund.