While the first official day of summer just happened this week, there’s already a chance this weekend to get a jump start on summer’s biggest holiday this Saturday, June 25 with Oklahoma City’s Fifth Annual Stars and Stripes River Festival.

“We figure a lot of people go to the lake and go out of town and things like that on 4th of July weekend,” said Greg Newby of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation. “So we thought we’d do our celebration the weekend before that. That way more people will be around, more people will be in town.”

While just getting a chance to hang out near the cool waters of the Oklahoma River would be a good enough excuse to attend the all day festival, here are five more reasons to make a trip to the Oklahoma City Boathouse District.

1. It’s free to the public: The Stars and Stripes River Festival is open to the public and allows families, group or individuals to enjoy the festivities without even spending a dime. In this day in age, any time you can go somewhere and not have to pull money out of your wallet or purse is a cause for celebration and a couple of hallelujahs.

2. The Entertainment: Whether you and your family are more adventurous or laid back, there is bound to be an event to suit your taste. During the Paddle Fest Dragon Boat Festival, which is part of the festivities, teams of up to 20 members attempt to row in unison. Many of these boats are filled with corporate co-workers working together to win a race for their boss’s bragging rights. That's true entertainment. 

3. Massive Fireworks: At the end of every festival, organizers let loose with a fireworks display that lights up the Oklahoma City skyline. “At the end of the day, after all the racing and awards are done, we have a really big fireworks show over the river,” said Greg Newby of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation. “A lot of people have told us over the years that it’s one of the best 4th of July firework shows in the city by far.” All of the sights and sounds without having to do any of the work yourself? What could be better?!

4. Night Races: The final events of the day are the Night Sprints, which feature the championships of the corporate rowing and Dragon Boat League taking place under the lights that line the Oklahoma River. Seeing the boats glide along the water under the lights is majestic, but for the kids in attendance it’s just a great excuse to stay up past their bedtime eating every candy bar, hot dog and soda their bodies can hold.

5. New Experiences: Unless you’ve traveled down the Colorado River, the chances of you having experienced rafting like this is extremely low. But the Stars and Stripes River Festival is giving festival goers that opportunity with RIVERSPORT Rapids Whitewater Rafting, all without having to deal with the many annoyances of being in the wild. The rapids will be open to the public for anyone willing to take on the whitewater.

Make sure to clear your calendars for this event – it is sure to be a good one!