“Sharklahoma” to drive tourism throughout July
Jenks’ newest tourism effort highlights its most unique attraction.
“Sharklahoma” is the Jenks Chamber of Commerce’s fresh initiative to increase tourism in the community throughout the month of July. The chamber targeted the world’s largest collection of bull sharks to be the town’s stand-out product.
Built off the concept of “Shark Week”, The Discovery Channel’s annual celebration of sharks, the chamber hopes to create a month-long interest and attract those from around the area.
“When you visit a city, there’s always something that draws you there,” Chamber President Josh Driskell said. “New York City is the city that never sleeps, there’s so much stuff to do there. We’re not that size but you look at successful communities, suburbs of Dallas, suburbs of Kansas City, what brings you there is something different, something unique.”
Over the next 30 days, the chamber has shark themed activities and events lined up for people of all ages to enjoy.
July 4 is slated to have the most activities, kicking off the celebration. The Freedom Fest will tie in with a shark feed and Los Cabos Boomfest, before closing the night out with fish and fireworks at the aquarium.
Movie buffs will get a taste of some of their favorite shark films. A movie night will be held July 18 at Jenks Downtown Commons showing “Shark Tale”.
A viewing of the iconic “Jaws” will be had July 11 at the aquarium. Following the movie, participants will have the opportunity to learn some of the film’s inaccuracies.
“Marine biologists will tell you that movie is very inaccurate, it’s so unfair to sharks,” Driskell said. “We’re going to show jaws and (aquarium staff) are going to have a Q and A (question and answer session) where they de-bunk all the things that aren’t accurate. Sharks aren’t these devil-ish creatures.”
Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell will make an appearance at the Jenks Chamber’s monthly luncheon to discuss tourism July 17, something he has made a priority during his time in office.
For more information on events, visit sharklahoma.com.
The aquarium, which attracts 300,000 to 400,000 per year according to Driskell, was an easy target for the chamber to market. Driskell says there is hope that “Sharklahoma” becomes an event to look forward to for years to come.
“I could see this growing and being something really large. You look at rooster days in Broken Arrow. It’s a community festival. With us, we’ll keep it as a month-long celebration but have more intense programming going on as we see what the community and the tourists want,” Driskell said.
While highlighting Jenks attractions is “Sharklahoma’s” main goal, increasing revenue in tax dollars will be a bonus. Driskell said the tax dollars from tourists are needed to expand the community.
“If locals shop here all the time, that’s great but if we’re going to grow the pie, so to speak, we’ve got to be bringing in more dollars,” he said.
Even before we got to this, we were in conversations about, how do we tell the Jenks story better?Josh Driskell, Jenks Chamber of Commerce President
The month-long celebration of sharks sets a precedent to the future of Jenks and what city officials view the community moving toward in the years to come.
“Even before we got to this, we were in conversations about, how do we tell the Jenks story better?” Driskell said. “Everything came together in a great confluence of events that said this was a great way to start this out and see what we can do.”
The chamber views the “Jenks story” as having attractions that tourists can’t find anywhere else.
“What is more unique than the largest collection of bull sharks? The community says, yeah this is quirky, we’re a land-locked state but we still have a world-class aquarium and we’re proud to tell that story. We’re bringing in our businesses and our residents all together to say we love living here and this is one of the reasons why,” Driskell said.