Fest with the best
Art, music and beer lovers have their fun cut out for them with a downtown festival trifecta — Mayfest, Blue Dome and Hop Jam.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that one of the biggest festival weekends of the year is beginning (unless “under a rock” is the name of the latest ultra-hip downtown speakeasy I don’t know about, in which case you’re probably going to some obscure festival I’ve never heard of). Between Mayfest, the Blue Dome Arts Festival and Hop Jam, you’ve got a full weekend of downtown fun ahead of you.
Now in its 44th year, Mayfest is a perennial favorite, and for good reason. Beautiful work from 120 visual artists, three stages for live music, food vendors, activities galore… you could easily spend a whole day exploring. Plus, admission is free, which is good because once you’re there you’ll want to buy all of the things. New this year, patrons can enjoy the thrill of a “Chopped”-style live painting challenge that pits previous poster artists against one another. The Inspired competition kicks off at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at Fourth and Main. If you’re looking to expand your art collection on a budget, check out Mayfest’s Under $200 program. You can get out of the sun at three indoor galleries, including this year’s new Pop Art Music Gallery at the Downtown YMCA, featuring pop art-inspired pieces by local students who sadly have no art program at their school. Saturday and Sunday features natural movement classes and an all-ages obstacle course from Deep Movement Studio. And as always, the KidZone will feature tons of activities for budding art lovers. Click here to check out the event guide. Try not to tucker yourself out too much, there’s still plenty to do this weekend!
Meanwhile, Mayfest’s rebellious little sister, the Blue Dome Arts Festival, is throwing a shindig just down the street. She’s turning 13 this year, and as always, has major attitude. Friday-Sunday, immerse yourself in more than 250 art vendors (unlike Mayfest, Blue Dome is unjuried, so anything goes). Fill your faces with food truck fare (I personally ate way to many empanadas from Masa last year, and am planning to do it all again, with a side of mini-donuts from Lick Your Lips). Enjoy performances from local bands and dancers while you eat. You’ll probably spot me sampling wine at the High Gravity booth or dunking my friends at the Comedy Parlor’s dunk tank, and generally going back on my promise to save money. But hey, it’s free to get in! Bring the whole family (fur babies included) for some creative fun during the day, or come later for live music and cold beer — plus plenty of unofficial Blue Dome after-parties, but my money’s on Arnie’s. Read The Tulsa Voice’s interview with fest organizer Jo Armstrong here.
Not to mention, it’s also ArtCar Weekend, so you’ll be seeing some unusually artful automobiles around town, traveling in startling packs. I’ve seen a video of one in particular “Alice in Wonderland”-themed ArtCar that features a caterpillar blowing actual smoke. You can spot the ArtCars on Saturday at the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market in the morning or at the Blue Dome Arts Festival in the afternoon. Forget Burning Man; $10 gets you into Burning Car on Saturday night, which is, well, exactly what it sounds like — a fire-spinning, performance-arting good time. Click here for a full ArtCar schedule.
If you’d rather look for art at the bottom of pint glass than on the walls of a gallery, save some room for the new kid on the block, the Hop Jam. You don’t have to be a mathematician is know beer + music = awesome. Sunday, head to the Brady Arts District and immerse your beer-loving palate in the craft beer area, featuring more than 100 different beers from Oklahoma, the nation and the world — more than double the breweries from last year. While you discover your new favorite beers, your ears can drink in the sounds of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, X Ambassadors, John Moreland and more. The party spills over the Gurthrie Green, which this year serves as a second stage and family fun zone. Registration begins at noon, early entry times are 1 and 2 p.m., and the beer festival and concert kick off in earnest at 3 p.m. You’ve got to be 21 to enter the beer area, but the concert is all-ages and free.
I’m tired (and a little hungover and a little sunburned) just thinking about it, but here comes one of the best Tulsa weekends of the year.