By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The annual Festival of the Arts runs through April 30 at Oklahoma City’s Bicentennial Park, located between Civic Center Music Hall and City Hall. Festivities include more than 140 artists, an expanded children’s art field, mouth-watering food favorites, culinary demonstrations and three performing arts stages featuring early 300 performances. Admission is free.
Co-chairs of the 51st annual Festival for the Oklahoma City Arts Council are Debbie Forshee and Steve Bolton.
Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday The festival is expected to attract more than 700,000 visitors. No pets are allowed at the event.
Over 500 artists submitted visual art for the Festival jury process. Selections include 144 media presentations including oils, water, drawing and printmaking, photography, ceramics, glass, sculpture, fiber, jewelry, wood and two and three-dimensional works.
The Festival of the Arts inspires visitors to get excited about the creative process behind the art, organizers said. Visitors are welcome to ask questions about how the artists create their works and see the materials close up.
The Festival will feature 31 culinary vendors in International Food Row with proceeds benefitting local nonprofit organizations.
“I’ll be serving up gyros in the Poppa John’s booth on the south side of the Civic Center! Best Greek food ever! Don’t be a Geek, eat Greek,” said Norman resident Tom Collins.
The Festival of the Arts has two 21+ areas that sell wine and high point beer. Six Day Cellars offers a thirty foot outdoor seating area overlooking Sculpture Park, Park West, located at the southwest corner of Bicentennial Park, features shaded seating and a view of Festival grounds.
Brittni Shull, a member of the Artisan‘s Steering Committee recently wrote in her blog, “The keys to a fantastic happy hour include patios, delicious food options and friends. Add in artists from all over the country displaying their work as far as the eye can see? Welcome to your dream happy hour courtesy of Festival of the Arts.
“Six Day Sellers and Park West are as chic as they sound,” Shull added. “If you’re the type who can’t resist group texting at least 15 of your closest friends for happy hour (guilty), Six Day Sellers is for you. The outdoor seating area has enough space to sip on wine or craft beer while overlooking the Sculpture Park right in the middle of the Festival action.”
An expanded children’s art field venue provides participants the opportunity to complete three art projects for $3. The face painting area also will include more extensive options this year in addition to the traditional $1 designs.
The Young-at-Art Mart is the children-only shopping venue with all artwork affordably priced for $5 or less. Families can experience Face Painting, Pottery Place and Creation Station, located on the west side of City Hall.
Over three hundred performers will delight festival goers on three stages. Entertainment will include Aalim Bellydance Academy, The Wise Guys, Spaghetti Eddie, Kerry Wayne’s Rockstar Band, the Oklahoma City Symphonic Band, the Bread and Butter Band and many others. Click here for a complete lists of performances.
All proceeds from Festival of the Arts support Arts Council Oklahoma City’s year-round, free and low-cost programming. The Festival is open rain or shine.
Arts Council Oklahoma City is a non-profit 501 ©(3) organization dedicated to bringing the arts and the community together through free or low-cost cultural events and a variety of arts outreach activities that impact underserved populations.
Arts Council OKC is committed to making Festival of the Arts a sustainable, zero-landfill event. At this year’s Festival of the Arts, entirely compostable or recyclable materials will be used at every food location.
Each year, Arts Council events, programs and services reach nearly one million Oklahoma City residents and visitors.
For more information, call 405-270-4848 or visit artscouncilokc.com.