Still fresh from the farm

Entering its 21st season, the Tulsa Farmers’ Market has blossomed into a local institution.



Tulsa Farmers’ Market history

Entering its 21st season, the Tulsa Farmers’ Market has blossomed from a gathering of 15 vendors into a year-round operation that has sown the seed for a multitude of other area farmers’ markets. 

By Judy Langdon


If your Saturday morning routine includes a trip to Cherry Street, you are among the thousands of fans of the 21-year-old Tulsa Farmers’ Market.

The weekly four-hour outdoor shopping experience stretches from East 15th Street and South Peoria to South Rockford Avenue.

Originally called the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market, it has grown from 15 vendors to 80.

Bright, fresh-picked produce are the stars of the show, as well as meat, dairy, honey, nuts and artisan crafts. Local musicians give the area a laid-back vibe. 

From April through October, rain or shine, each market day begins long before the crack of dawn, with street closures at 3:45 a.m., and vendors arriving an hour later. The Market opens at 7 a.m. sharp and closes up at 11 a.m. on the dot, when, after clean-up, Cherry Street goes back to being a normal, busy — but much quieter — midtown street. 

Tulsans Marilyn Ihloff and Susan Simmons attended a 1997 yoga retreat in neighboring Fayetteville, Arkansas. They stumbled upon its town square farmers’ market, which planted the seed for Tulsa.

“We talked on the way home about how Tulsa should have something like that,”  says Ihloff, owner of Ihloff Salon and Day Spa.

After she and Simmons returned home, they began plans for a Tulsa market the next spring. Through the help of visionaries Susan Gray, Jim East and Richard Groenendyke, the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market opened in April 1998 in the Jason’s Deli parking lot with just five vendors. It quickly grew to 15 vendors the first season. “There were several hundred customers supporting the market early on,” hence its rapid growth, says Market Financial Director Penni Shelton.

That spurred the creation of a volunteer board of directors.

Ihloff continues to be an advisor and market supporter. As its founder, “she has been a big part of our history,” Shelton says.

The Market accepts cash and debit cards as payment, and former board members Mike Appel and Emily Oakley, owners of Three Springs Farm, a certified organic farm in Oaks, Oklahoma, helped the market become the first in the state to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

The Market also created the Double Up Food Bucks program, where SNAP recipients can enjoy a 1-to-1 match for dollars spent at the market, up to $20 per visit. Partner organizations include All Souls Unitarian Church and Morton Health Services, which transport Tulsans in underserved communities to the market each week.

In 2009, the market officially became the largest in the state based on data from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Putting together a weekly farmers’ market, especially one of Tulsa’s capacity, is a two-fold challenge, Shelton says. “Not having a permanent location means we have to literally create a space every single market day,” she says. “The amount of work and orchestration to make that happen is stunning. 

“The second part is in funding our multi-faceted infrastructure and community outreach,” she continues. The nonprofit is “in a perpetual state of fundraising, to bring Tulsa-area shoppers and underserved members of our community the best and freshest foods that Green Country has to offer.”

In 2015, the Market’s name changed to Tulsa Farmers’ Market to better represent the mission, Shelton says. The much smaller Brookside Market, which began in 2004, is a mid-week market under Tulsa Farmers’ Market’s umbrella. It runs from mid-May through September at East 36th Street and South Peoria Avenue.

This past November, TFM launched its first indoor facility, the Farm Stand, open year-round inside the Mother Road Market, 1124 S. Lewis Ave. While the Farm Stand does not replace its traditional markets, “it is a curated collection of our top-selling items in a 320-square-foot space,” she says.

More markets have sprung up in the area due to TFM’s success, although they are separate from the Tulsa Farmers’ Market brand.

And organizers are encouraged by the creation of new farms, ranches, food trucks, caterers and artisan crafters, Shelton says. “As they see the potential for their passion projects turning into viable businesses for themselves and their families, we believe that our market continues to have a very real impact on our local economy.”

Ihloff continues to shop and appreciate the markets. “I love others have gone on to raise the bar and make this such a very special market.”

Shelton attributes the TFM’s growth to passion and desire “from farmers and ranchers, and local customers.”

But it’s connection and outreach that keep customers returning each week, she believes. “There is certainly a special vibe about meeting and getting to know the person that actually grew or raised the food you buy and take home,” Shelton says.

“Food is where we can come together and connect. Our outreach into the community makes me so proud of what our market has become.”

Neil Trumler frequently shops at the farmers’ market for himself and as corporate chef of the Justin Thompson Restaurant Group, where he oversees menus and menu development for Juniper, PRHYME, Tavolo, 624 Catering and MixCo.    No cash? With a credit card, shoppers can buy tokens good at all market vendors.    Tina Peña is a farmers’ market fixture who buys produce and other grocery staples from the many local vendors.

Smart, savvy shoppers 

Meet the Tulsa Farmers’ Market regulars Tina Peña and Neil Trumler

By Natalie Mikles


The Tulsa Farmers’ Market might just be the happiest place in town. Walking down East 15th Street, you’ll find any number of little scenes to make you smile.

A toddler carrying a bunch of sunflowers as big as she is. A couple with their fingers laced, sharing a chocolate croissant with their free hands. And farmers in denim proudly showing off the strawberries and asparagus they picked the day before.

Among the crowds of people are the regulars. Some of them never miss a Saturday. Tina Peña is one of them.

She only walks a few steps before one of the farmers recognizes her.

“Hey, Tina, how are you? How’s your dad?”

Peña buys the produce she will need for the week at the market each Saturday. She also picks up meat, eggs and sometimes extras like granola or bread.

We shopped with Peña last month when the farmers’ market was stationed at Mother Road Market before the spring season.

“We need some bacon,” she says. And she knows just where to go to get it. Greenwood Farms carries bacon, bratwurst, sausage and eggs.

Gary Greenwood had something new that day. Jalapeño bacon, which he says takes a BLT to the next level.

“Let’s do jalapeño then,” Peña says.

Peña comes to the market with a running list of a few staples she knows she’ll need, but she leaves herself open to trying new things, like the jalapeño bacon or a new seasonal vegetable.

The bulk of her shopping is buying produce, especially from the Hmong farmers she has gotten to know.

“How’s your father?” Neng Thao says.

Everyone seems to know Peña’s father, who at the time we were shopping, was visiting family in Peru.

Peña juices for herself and her 92-year-old dad every day, so she stocks up on kale, carrots and ginger. Another of her spring favorites is Swiss chard that she stir-fries with peppers and ginger — all from the market.

As corporate chef for the Justin Thompson Restaurant Group, Neil Trumler shops the farmers’ market with two points of view. Most Saturdays he’s eyeing what looks good for dinner for himself and his wife. But he’s also wearing his chef’s hat, noticing what’s in season and what would be a good addition to the menus at Juniper or PRHYME.

When we shopped with him last month, his eye was on the purple potatoes. He knew they would be perfect to add a pop of color on a plate at Juniper.

During market season, the Farmers’ Market Salad is a favorite on Juniper’s menu, and it changes week to week depending on what’s in season.

“I talk to the vendors to find out what’s fresh,” Trumler says. “Sometimes they’ll set something aside for me.”

Most Saturday mornings, Trumler is at the market by 7:30. It’s early for a chef who works late nights, but he says it’s worth it to find the best things from the vendors.

On this particular Saturday, he and his wife decided to make one of their favorites, a sweet potato pad Thai with ingredients bought almost entirely at the market: sweet potatoes, cilantro, green onion, chicken breast and eggs.

In the summer, Trumler sources many things from the market for Juniper. He’ll buy many pounds of tomatoes, using them in salads and other recipes for the season. But Trumler also thinks ahead, pickling and canning some of those tomatoes and other vegetables to use in the winter. Built on a relationship made at the farmers’ market, Trumler sources whole chickens, pork loins and bellies from nearby Prairie Creek Farms to use on the menu at PRHYME.

“It’s important to shop at the farmers’ market to support local farmers who care about their products and to stimulate your local economy,” Trumler says. “Also, it’s just a bunch of really great people who care about Tulsa and love what they do.”
 

 

 

Spring Bounty

Three recipes with farmers’ market freshness and flavors

By Natalie Mikles

Poached eggs over roasted asparagus. Get the recipe at TulsaPeople.com.

Poached Eggs Over Roasted Asparagus and Parmesan Cheese

Serves 4

2    bunches asparagus

Olive oil

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

½    teaspoon red pepper flakes

3    tablespoons white wine vinegar

4    eggs

4    tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim asparagus by snapping off the bottom tough ends of each stalk. Place asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.

Pour 3 inches of water into a large saute pan. Let water come to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Add vinegar. Carefully crack and place each egg into the water. Cook eggs in simmering water, 4-5 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon.

To serve, divide asparagus between four plates. Place a poached egg on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

 

Pea and Pesto Flatbread. Get the recipe at TulsaPeople.com.

Pea and Pesto Flatbread

Serves 6

Homemade or store-bought pizza dough

1    cup fresh or frozen sweet peas, thawed

1    cup fresh basil leaves

½    cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

¼    cup extra-virgin olive oil

3    tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2    garlic cloves

1    teaspoon kosher salt

1    cup ricotta cheese

½    cup Parmesan cheese

1    heaping cup baby arugula

2    tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Press pizza dough into a 15-by-11-inch rectangle on a baking sheet. Bake on the low rack of the oven until lightly browned and crisp, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine peas, basil, parsley, oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt, pulsing until smooth.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Spread ricotta mixture over flatbread. Carefully spread pesto mixture over ricotta. Bake at 425 degrees for 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven, and top with arugula and balsamic vinegar.

 

Strawberry Shortcake. Get the recipe at TulsaPeople.com.

Strawberry Shortcake

Serves 8

3 pints fresh strawberries

½    cup sugar

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

2     teaspoons baking powder

¼    cup sugar

¼    teaspoon salt

1/3    cup butter, softened

1    egg, lightly beaten

1    teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3    cup milk

2    cups whipped heavy cream

 

Slice strawberries and, in a bowl, toss them with ½ cup of sugar. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter and flour one 8- or 9-inch round cake pan.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, ¼ cup sugar and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg, vanilla and milk. Stir until just combined.

Spread the batter into the pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool partially in pan on wire rack.

Slice partially cooled cake in half, making two layers. Place half of the strawberries on one layer and top with the other layer. Top with remaining strawberries and cover with the whipped cream.

 



More area farmers’ markets

 

Tulsa

Brookside Farmers’ Market
East 36th Street and South Peoria Avenue (Brookside Church)
7:30-11 a.m., Wednesdays, May 1-Sept. 25
Local and organic produce, plants, herbs, baked goods, meats, eggs, cheese, garden crafts; live music.

Greenwood Farmer and Artisan Market
East parking lot of Langston University, 914 N. Greenwood Ave.
9 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, April 27-Sept. 28.
Fresh produce, honey, condiments, bath products

The Farm’s Farmers’ Market 
The Farm Shopping Center, 5321 S. Sheridan Road
8-11:30 a.m., Saturdays, May 4-Sept. 28 
Fresh produce, honey, eggs, dairy, salsa, meat, baked goods, cooking demonstrations; live music

 

Regional

Bixby Farmers’ Market
50 W. Dawes Ave., Charley Young Park
8-11 a.m., 1st and 3rd Saturdays, May and June; 3rd Saturdays, July-September
Fresh produce, honey, herbs, meat, cheese, eggs, crafts and decor

Rose District Farmers’ Market
418 S. Main St., Broken Arrow
8 a.m.-noon, Saturdays, April 6-Oct. 26;
Fresh produce, plants, herbs, meat, dairy, cut flowers, condiments, baked items, crafts, live music

Claremore Farmers’ Market
200 S. Lynn Riggs Blvd., Claremore
7-11 a.m. or sellout, Saturdays, May 4-Oct. 26
Fresh produce, herbs, meat, eggs, baked goods, honey, crafts, jewelry

Sapulpa Main Street Route 66 Farmers’ Market
222 E. Dewey Ave., Sapulpa
7:30-11 a.m., Saturdays, May 4-Sept. 28
Fresh produce, plants, herbs, meat, honey, grains and educational demonstrations

 

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May 2019

Vintage Market Days® is an upscale vintage and vintage-inspired indoor/outdoor market featuring original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, home décor, outdoor furnishings,...

Cost: Friday $10, Saturday & Sunday $5

Where:
Creek County Fairgrounds
17808 W Hwy 66
Kellyville, OK  74039
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Sponsor: Vintage Market Days of Tulsa
Telephone: (918) 527-1247
Contact Name: VMD Tulsa
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National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Cost: FREE ADMISSION

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410 North Main St., Ste. A
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Inner Circle Vodka Bar
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National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
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The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

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Cost: Free and open to the public

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McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
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Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

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Cost: Donations only

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4241 S. 37th W. Ave.
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1700 NE 63rd Street
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Contact Name: Ellen Devereux

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Cost: Free and open to the public

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McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
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Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

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910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
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Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

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418 south peoria ave
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Telephone: (918) 895-6798
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Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

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Cost: 0.00

Where:
n/a
, OK


Sponsor: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoman
Contact Name: Ellen Devereux

More information

Explore various moments in time as captured by PHOTOG, Photographers of Tulsa Oklahoma Group. The exhibit opening reception is 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 1. The exhibit is open through May 30. Call...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

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Telephone: 918-366-9445
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Track 5.
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa
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Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa
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Tulsa Juneteenth hosts this family-fun carnival with rides, games, food, and more.

Where:
OSU-Tulsa
700 N Greenwood Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa
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Sample foods from local businesses.

Where:
Charley Young Event Park
50 W Dawes St
Bixby, OK
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Cost: $10

Where:
The Vanguard
222 N Main St
Tulsa
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Where:
The Fur Shop
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa
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Where:
Soul City
1621 E 11th St
Tulsa
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Cost: $20-$30

Where:
River Spirit Casino - Paradise Cove
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa
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Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa
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Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa
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The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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The Champions of Health awards recognize those who make a difference in the health of Oklahomans. Winners in select categories will receive $5,000 for their organization or program, and will be...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
n/a
, OK


Sponsor: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoman
Contact Name: Ellen Devereux

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Explore various moments in time as captured by PHOTOG, Photographers of Tulsa Oklahoma Group. The exhibit opening reception is 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 1. The exhibit is open through May 30. Call...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
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Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

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Cost: $5

Where:
Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
Tulsa
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Where:
Scotty's Lounge
3119 W 61st St
Tulsa
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Cost: $10

Where:
Soul City
1621 E 11th St
Tulsa
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - LandShark Pool Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa
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Where:
Rabbit Hole Bar & Grill
116 S Elgin Ave
Tulsa
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa
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Where:
Retro Grill & Bar
800 N Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Run
3141 E Skelly Dr
Tulsa
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Where:
The Fur Shop
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa
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Cost: $20-425

Where:
Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
5 S Boston Ave
Tulsa
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Where:
Barkingham Palace
412 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa
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Where:
Rabbit Hole Improv
1526 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa
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Where:
Cabin Boys Brewery
1717 E 7th St
Tulsa
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Track 5.
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa
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Where:
Lefty's On Greenwood
10 N Greenwood
Tulsa
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Where:
Los Cabos - Jenks
300 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks
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B-29 Doc will spend Memorial Day weekend in in Tulsa, Okla., May 25 and 26. The Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium (TASM) will host B-29 Doc for a two-day event that will feature both static...

Cost: $20.00 - Free

Where:
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
3624 North 74th East Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74115
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Sponsor: Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
Telephone: 918-834-9900
Contact Name: Kevin Meeks
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Floral Haven Funeral Home, Crematory & Cemetery (Broken Arrow) remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice during a weekend of commemorations to mark Memorial Day. Among the scheduled...

Cost: Free

Where:
6500 S. 129th E Ave.
Broken Aarow, OK  74012


Sponsor: Floral Haven Funeral Home
Telephone: 415-359-2316
Contact Name: David Cumpston
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The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Mamma Mia!  Here we go again... If you ABBA-solutely want to have a fun evening, come join us in a post-Mothers' Day celebration of the woman who brought you into this world (and let you stay in...

Cost: $8.00

Where:
PH Community House
306 S Phoenix Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
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Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - LandShark Pool Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa
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Website »

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Cost: $10

Where:
Soul City
1621 E 11th St
Tulsa
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Website »

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Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Track 5.
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa
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Cost: $5

Where:
Bad Ass Renee's
6373 E 31st St
Tulsa
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Cost: $5

Where:
473
2224 E Admiral Blvd
Tulsa
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Cost: $5

Where:
Centennial Lounge at VFW Post 577
1109 E 6th St
Tulsa
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Cost: $15

Where:
Duet
108 N Detroit Ave
Tulsa
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Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa
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Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend with a classic car and motorcycle cruise down Route 66, historical displays, and live entertainment.

Where:
Route 66 Historical Village
3770 Southwest Blvd
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $30-$40

Where:
River Spirit Casino
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Mohawk Park
5701 E 36th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Rabbit Hole Improv
1526 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $4-$8

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $5

Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa
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Where:
The Stumbling Monkey
8921 S Yale Ave
Tulsa
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Cost: $10

Where:
The Vanguard
222 N Main St
Tulsa
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Cost: $20

Where:
Hard Rock Casino - The Joint
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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Where:
Lefty's On Greenwood
10 N Greenwood
Tulsa
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