Packed weekend of downtown Tulsa festivals becoming yearly tradition attracting crowds of people

By | May 19, 2016



TULSA – On Wednesday afternoon, Heather Pingry walked through downtown as artists set up their booths for Tulsa’s International Mayfest.

“Starts down here on the corner at 3rd and Main,” Pingry said as she walked down Main. “They will be set up on both sides of the street here.”

As the executive director of Mayfest,  Pingry said the festival has grown over the years. She is also excited by how much downtown Tulsa has grown with the Blue Dome Arts Festival and Hop Jam being held on the same weekend.

“This is what we have been waiting for, for a long time,” Pingry said. “To have all of these events going on and have so many people down here is incredible.”

Starting Thursday and running through the weekend, Mayfest will feature artists of all kinds selling their work, as well as food vendors and several stages for live music.

Photographer David Bolin traveled from Colorado this week to sell his work at his fourth Mayfest.

“This is a grizzly I photographed in Denali National park,” he said while hanging one of his photos at his booth for the festival.

With a gallery called Hanging Valley Photography in Colorado, Bolin said he keeps coming to Mayfest because of its national reputation.

“It is just a show that the whole city gets involved with it,” Bolin said. “Everybody knows about it and you see some really good art.”

Glass artist Steve Brewster brings his work from Moon Bay Art Glass Studio to Mayfest for similar reasons. He thinks it is also why crowds come to all of the festivals in downtown Tulsa this weekend.

“Cause there is a lot going on in Tulsa,” Brewster said. “It is a great town, and you know the proximity. People can come downtown and go to several things instead of just going to one event.”

New to Mayfest this year will be an art competition called Inspired, similar to cooking competition reality shows.

“An art competition, one hour long,” Pingry said. “They will have a basket of surprise ingredients. All of those ingredients will serve as inspiration for their piece.”

Several blocks away the Blue Dome Arts Festival’s mural is ready near 2nd and Elgin in downtown.

“This one right down here is mine. I did this one right here in orange,” the Blue Dome Art Festival’s executive director Jo Armstrong said as she found her handprint on the mural.

On Friday and Saturday, Armstrong said around 244 booths will fill the Blue Dome District’s streets, with all sorts of artwork on display and for sale. ”

“We still actually have a waiting list of people we weren’t able to fit into the festival this year,” Armstrong said. “We have quite a few. That is just how much it has grown. When people understand we have this much talent here, I think that is cool.”

Armstrong said new to the Blue Dome Arts Festival this year are a full family zone and make and take crafts, a collaborative art piece and the chance to add your hand print to the festival’s mural.

For the third year in a row, Hop Jam a beer and music festival hosted by the Hanson brothers will finish off the packed weekend. It is a weekend special to the Tulsa band.

“Our band started 24 years ago at Mayfest, we played our first show at Mayfest,” Taylor Hanson said. “So we love being a part of that heritage. I think a lot of young people are staking their claim in re-framing what downtown life is like.”

Hanson said this year’s festival will feature more music than the festivals first two years. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Albert Hammond Jr., and X Ambassadors will headline the music in the Brady District. A second stage will also be set-up at Guthrie Green.

The number of craft breweries has also doubled this year from around 30 to 60, showcasing beer from 20 states and 10 countries.

“This is a weekend that kind of kicks of the summer,” Hanson said. “Everybody says hey, ‘I want to be taking in what downtown has to offer. I think Hop Jam is helping to highlight this incredible craft beer movement.”

Details on road closures and event times for all the festivals can be found on here:


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