If you are going to be in Oklahoma City, the "Horse Show Capital of the World" and the state's capital during Labor Day weekend, there are plenty of things to do in addition to soaking up the local cowboy culture. A number of annual Oklahoma City events and popular activities fall during Labor Day weekend. Whether swimming in a lake, attending a Western festival, or watching a sports game, you'll enjoy the unofficial end of the summer in this modern city and its surrounding area.
There aren't many operational pools left in Oklahoma City, and those tend to close in late July. However, the aquatic centers are open through Labor Day, making the holiday one of your last chances to enjoy the water and cool down from the summer heat.
The city-operated spraygrounds—offering a range of cannons, levers, and buckets, among other things which spray you with water—typically shut down the end of September.
Whether it's the swimming beaches of Arcadia Lake, the trails around Lake Overholser, the fishing piers and water skiing at Lake Stanley Draper, or sailing and having a picnic at Lake Hefner, Labor Day is the perfect time, and perhaps one of the final moments of the season, to get out and enjoy the lakes. In Oklahoma City, you have several options for lakes, each sure to be bustling on Labor Day.
A great way to have fun is at Oklahoma City's water park White Water Bay, featuring over 25 acres of pools, rides, and slides. In mid-August, the park usually goes to a more limited schedule, but they are open Labor Day weekend. It's generally a send-off to the season for many.
Check out the Wild West-themed Frontier City for rides, bumper boats, and a Ferris wheel, among other entertaining activities. They reduce their hours in August but are open Labor Day weekend. If you are seeking go-karts, batting cages, and water attractions, check out Andy Alligator's Fun Park and Water Park near Norman.
You may have a flat screen television and a comfortable recliner at home, or something similar at your hotel, but that can't take the place of the game day atmosphere. The University of Oklahoma Sooners—with a history dating back to 1895—will host their season opener Labor Day weekend in 2019, taking on the Houston Cougars from the University of Houston, at The Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
The team has a rich history in football that includes many players having won the Heisman Trophy, an award given each year to the most outstanding college football player in the U.S.
Speaking of sports, Labor Day is like a transition time from baseball to football. Around the holiday is often the final opportunity to see the Oklahoma City Dodgers play for the year. In 2019, the team has four home games against New Orleans Baby Cakes in late August and early September at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in the Bricktown District just east of downtown Oklahoma City.
The team formerly known as the Oklahoma City 89ers is often a contender for the league title and has numerous notable players.
Arcadia, about a 30-minute drive to Oklahoma City in an area east of Edmond, has an annual longtime Labor Day weekend favorite called the Arcadia Western Heritage Festival & Rodeo at Arcadia Park. The highlight of this family-friendly event might be the live blues music, but you'll also find gospel singers and other entertainment, vendor booths, a talent show, and a parade. The rodeo closes things out.
Labor Day weekend tends to be one of the bigger shopping times of the year. Bargain-hunters should find plenty of sales and events throughout Oklahoma City. You're sure to get great deals at OKC malls, from the atrium mall with three stories called 50 Penn Place to Quail Springs Mall, one of the state's largest, where you can also catch a movie.
In addition, you can check out local shops and dining establishments as you explore the city's many districts.
Don't miss Sam Noble Museum, Oklahoma’s museum of natural history where your family can learn about over 500 million years of the state's natural and cultural history. The museum has an impressive 10 million specimens and artifacts among its current and permanent exhibits, plus programs for people of all ages.
Also of interest are the collections like the Native American Languages collection—this includes books, recordings, lesson plans, and other items, from over 175 Native North American languages.
The Arts District in downtown Oklahoma City used to house film distribution offices for some major Hollywood studios. Today it's a worthwhile area to visit the businesses related to the arts, as well as The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and the Civic Center Music Hall.
Area restaurants—even one in a former automobile assembly plant, are enjoyable end of summer stops. The Flashback Retro Pub, a venue and bar, brings back video games from the 1980s era, like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Rubik's Cubes, and stars like Madonna.
If you are up for an exploratory drive about 90 minutes east of Oklahoma City, your family can enjoy a Labor Day rodeo in the small city Henryetta, the "Rodeo Cowboy Capital of the World." Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association and the Women's Professional Rodeo Association, the event offers traditional competitions in steer wrestling, barrel racing, bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, and team roping.
The Jim Shoulders Living Legends Rodeo at Historic Nichols Parks was named after the former 16-time World Champion cowboy who lived in Henryetta until his death.
In Midwest City, just 15 minutes by car heading east of Oklahoma City, Reno Swim & Slide offers special public events throughout the summer; one of them honors the last day of the pool season and Labor Day weekend. For a new type of fun, bring your dog to the pool for the annual Doggie Paddle, usually held in the evening on the Monday of Labor Day weekend.
As long as your dog has tags, is current on shots, and is on a leash when not in the water, you may bring your fuzzy friend to participate. While the human attending does pay a small fee, the canine has free admission.
Thought it's a nearly two-hour drive east of Oklahoma City, the Rentiesville Dusk 'Til Dawn Blues Festival would be a fun family activity for Labor Day weekend and is even dubbed "the world’s largest backyard party." About 3,500 people celebrate the blues festival in this historically important town—one of the 50 all-black towns in Oklahoma established in 1903. The town is also the birthplace and home of Oklahoma blues legend and event founder D.C. Minner.
The festival entertains the crowd with over 200 musicians, including nationally- acclaimed headliners, plus workshops and a barbecue. They also have a Kid’s Village Festival, including free harmonica lessons.