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BLUE GREEN ALGAE: Forced to cancel Lakefest water plans

By Samson Tamijani

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    HASKELL, Oklahoma (KJRH) — It’s almost 4th of July festival time, and the Muskogee County town of Haskell looks forward to “Lakefest” every year.

But Lakefest won’t have a lake this year.

“It’s something that everybody in the town just really brags about,” Town of Haskell City Manager Mike Keene told 2 News. “They just can’t wait for it to come.”

Haskell’s Lakefest usually includes using Haskell Lake for family-friendly fun like swimming, kayak races, and a kids fishing tournament.

10-year old Kingston Kelley usually dominates the fishing competition but won’t get to defend his title this year after the lake tested positive for blue-green algae, which can be toxic for humans and animals.

“I was like, ‘Man, that sucks,'” Kelley said. “I wish we could do it because I really wanted to do it this year.”

“We were shocked,” Keene said. “We thought there’s no way but we’ll go out there and test. And sure enough the test came back positive.”

Keene couldn’t remember the last time such a problem shut down lake use before the fest.

“It’s usually much later in the year, you know, after it hasn’t rained for some time,” he said. “The heat has been well over 100. We’re usually dealing with it sometime in August.”

Even though much of Green Country just had a lot of rain pass through June 26, Keene said the tests the city submits to a third-party lab take a month to come back, so they have to stick with their decision for now.

There is some good news for families and local businesses though, Keene wants to reassure. The city expects more vendors than ever, and its biggest fireworks show yet.

“We partnered with our sister city, Coweta, just down the road,” he said. “They have increased our budget for fireworks. They have (also) actually booked a local singer to come and do a little concert for us.”

The young fishing prodigy has his mind set on the other competitions in the meantime.

“(I’m) probably just gonna try to win the bullfrog and turtle race,” Kelley said.

Lakefest gets underway Saturday, June 29 at 10 a.m. and concludes with the concert by singer Joleen Brown and a fireworks show after 7:30 p.m.. Admission is free to the public.

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