MEDICINE PARK, OK (KSWO) -Medicine Park's Red Dirt Ball kicks off the unofficial beginning of summer Friday night, but this year they are doing things a little different to remember someone they have lost.
Event organizers chose to dedicate the ball to 6-year-old Riyan Rae Lowery of Fletcher, who died after being badly injured in a car wreck in March near Fletcher. Her parents were also in the crash and suffered serious injuries.
Besides Riyan and her family coming out to the festivals and events in Medicine Park, event organizer Dwight Cope is close with the family. His daughters played with Riyan and her siblings, and they saw each other often. Cope says he knew when planning the Red Dirt Ball, one of Riyan's favorite events, that it was his duty to do something in her honor.
Cope helps set up for the Red Dirt Ball with a heavy heart knowing the little girl who was seen running all around the festival in the past, won't be there this year.
"She was a real energetic, fun lovin' little girl, and it's a shame that something like that happened," Cope said.
Riyan Rae Lowery died of complications from a brain injury after a car crash in March. She is being remembered during Memorial Day weekend not only from Cope telling her story, but from her artwork as Medicine Park Mayor Charles Callich explains.
"Well, a lot of people ask what this poster is. And what it is, is actually one of her last paintings. So, that's the significance of the poster. Dwight Cope did a great job in designing it, but it was one of her last paintings," Mayor Callich said.
That painting, with her name written in the clouds, will be front and center on the main stage and on every Red Dirt Ball T-shirt sold.
There will also be a donation bucket passed around along with a silent auction and part of the musicians' merchandise sales will be donated. It's all to help Riyan's parents with medical bills.
"Feels good. It's always nice to be able to help somebody any way that you can and I just think it's real appropriate that it was one of her favorite things and we know she will be here in spirit," Cope said.
For your chance to donate in Riyan's memory, and to enjoy the festival, the Red Dirt Ball starts at 7 p.m. Friday with bands playing Red Dirt country music until midnight. On Saturday and Sunday, the first band starts at noon. You can find a list of the bands playing here.
If you can't make it to the festival, but still want to help Riyan's family, you can make a donation to the 'Riyan Lowery Benefit Fund' at First National Bank of Fletcher.