Roots: Lane Smith

Author and illustrator



Vital stats: Born in Tulsa; grew up in California; graduated from Art Center College of Design; has written or illustrated two Caldecott Honor books: wrote this year’s “Grandpa Green” and illustrated “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,” co-written with Jon Scieszka;  illustrated one version of “James and the Giant Peach” and served as art director for the 1996 film.

Now: 53; lives and works in Connecticut; preparing for the release of “Abe Lincoln’s Dream” in October; by his own admission, “I’m still constantly getting ideas. Most of them are bad ideas, but I’m still hoping some of them work out.”

How did writing and illustrating become a career?

Well, I went to college in California at ... Art Center College of Design, where a lot of other illustrators have graduated from. When I got out of school, I went to New York and started doing magazine work — Time and Rolling Stone and things like that — and doing album covers and stuff. I always wanted to get into kids’ books, so at night, it was like homework. I was building a portfolio. When I got it ready, I took it to a publisher, and I sold my first book. I thought kids’ books would be like a side project, but after a few years, it sort of took off, and now that’s all I do. The last two or three years, I’ve been on a tear, like two or three a year. I used to be a little more leisurely. Maybe I’m afraid books are going to disappear.

Why kids’ books?

Probably the freedom. When you make a kids’ book, it’s like you’re a film producer. You write it, direct it. You just have total control. And also, I’ve always been in this perpetual state of arrested development. I still feel like I’m a kid, even though I’m 53. I’ve always thought it would be a great venue to work in, and it has been.

What inspires your work?

I think because I consider myself an illustrator first, most of my ideas for books come from a visual source — it might be the changing of the season or colors or something. It’s hard to say where it comes from. A lot of mornings, I find crumpled napkins next to my bed with ideas I’ve scribbled down in the middle of the night. It’s like, “Let’s see, two monsters wearing hats in a jungle? What is this?”

How have your Oklahoma summers guided your career?

All our relatives were in the Sapulpa area, so we spent a lot of summers there. It’s weird — all my childhood memories are from Oklahoma, even though I grew up in California. But those summers definitely did influence me. Just getting to Oklahoma, we’d follow the old Route 66 trajectory, so I know all that stuff, just those long desert vistas and all the Route 66–type attractions. You’d see the road signs for all that stuff: “500 miles to the baby rattlers,” then “300 miles” and then you’d get there and pay your dollar to see the baby rattlers, and then there’d be a bucket of baby rattles. I think that influenced my sense of humor. Also, a lot of my illustrations have some lonely element to them, like one character, and I know that’s from those wide expanses.

All my relatives were cowboys. They wore cowboy hats, and they drove tractors and had ranches. That was kind of mythic for a kid to go back and hang out with cowboys. I remember my Uncle Leo had a ranch with chickens and stuff. And so one of my recent books was called “Grandpa Green,” and it was definitely influenced by Uncle Leo and all that. Now, the books I read and the movies I watch and the things I do all have that Oklahoma feel to it. Something about that just got into my brain. I’ll watch “The Grapes of Wrath” and I’ll listen to Woody Guthrie. It drives my wife crazy. She’ll say, “I got the new Rob Zombie CD,” and I’ll be like, “But I was going to listen to Woody Guthrie.”

What do you miss about Oklahoma?

I think just the general vibe there. I kind of equate it with Mayberry because whenever we’d go back there, it would mean hearing some music and going fishing and riding on the tractor and all that kind of romanticized version of the place. It’s right out of a storybook or a movie. And that downtown stretch of Main Street in Sapulpa is always kind of black and white to me. Whenever I’m there, I take pictures, but I take them in black and white. There’s the town square and a tumbleweed in the street and everyone drives pickups. It’s completely alien to what you would see in New York.

What’s coming up for you?

I did a book about a year and a half ago called “It’s a Book.” It’s still selling really well. It’s about a monkey and a donkey, and the donkey’s on his computer and the monkey’s on his book. They go back and forth, “Can you blog on it? Can you put pictures on it?” “No, it’s a book.” It goes on, and finally, the monkey says, “No, it’s a book, jackass.” I got so many letters from like Kansas and Oklahoma, and I’m like, “No, my grandfather was a Baptist preacher! That word is in the Bible.” People are touchy now.

I’ve got a book I just finished that will come out in October, and it’s called “Abe Lincoln’s Dream.” It’s about a little girl who’s on a White House tour, and she gets separated from the tour and bumps into Abe Lincoln’s ghost. He’s sort of perplexed about this dream he’d had the night before. That’s kind of a true story because the night before he was killed, he had a dream about being on a boat and sort of wondered what it meant for America after the Civil War. She takes him on a tour of the United States, and he sort of realizes that everything’s going to be OK, so at the end, he sails away on a boat.

Editor’s note: Interview edited for length.

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August 2017

At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

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Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
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Elwood's
1924 Riverside Dr
Tulsa, OK
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
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1747 S Boston Ave
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ONEOK Field
201 N. Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Soul City
1621 E 11th St
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328 E 1st St
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Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

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Soundpony
409 N Main St
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Yeti
417 N Main St
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Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
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Website »

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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
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Website »

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The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918.584.2306
Website »

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Where:
VFW Post 577 - Centennial Lounge
1109 E 6th St
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

Cost: $5

Where:
VFW Post 577 - Centennial Lounge
1109 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Yeti
417 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 936-4994
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Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
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2809 S Harvard Ave
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Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
5 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Soul City
1621 E 11th St
Tulsa, OK
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Gypsy Coffee House
303 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 295-2181
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Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918.584.2306
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

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Cost: free

Where:
Hospitality House of Tulsa
1135 S. Victor AVE
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Hospitality House of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-794-0088 x205
Contact Name: Rhonda McDaniel
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Loony Bin
6808 S Memorial Dr
Ste. 234
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 392-5653
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The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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VFW Post 577 - Centennial Lounge
1109 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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On the Rocks
3120 S. Yale Ave.
Tulsa, OK
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Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
5 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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112 E. 18th St.
Tulsa, OK
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409 N Main St
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

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Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
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Guthrie Green
207 N Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Fassler Hall
304 S. Elgin Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74120
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The Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
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Utica Square
21st Street and Utica Avenue
Tulsa, OK
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#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Sandra Brown delivers suspense and supercharged sexual tension in her new thriller about vengeance without mercy, ÒSeeing Red.Ó

Where:
IDL Ballroom
230 E 1st St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: (918) 551-7447
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Cost: $5

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Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
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Cost: $33-$48

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Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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224 N Main St
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
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3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
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The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
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Cost: $75-$85

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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - The Joint
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

Get your wheels in motion and join us for our 4th Annual CF Cycle for Life Night Ride! Participants will start the evening at our Get Lit tent getting their glow on, and then gearing up to ride...

Cost: $150 Fundraising Minimum

Where:
Guthrie Green
111 E Brady St
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Benefits Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Telephone: 918-744-6354
Contact Name: Jessica Cermak
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Cost: $6-$8

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S Rockford Road
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Billy and Renee's
6373 E 31st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: 918-836-0655
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Crystal Skull
1005 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 949-9800
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River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 599-9200
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Cost: $10

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Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 921-3535
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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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American Legion Post 308
11328 E Admiral Pl
Tulsa, OK
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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Fassler Hall
304 S. Elgin Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Telephone: (918) 576-7898
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Cost: $10

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 921-3535
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More information

Things are getting hot at Fuel 66, with fire performers and live music from Marie Curie and TFM.

Cost: $5

Where:
Fuel 66
11th Street and Atlanta Avenue
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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Where:
River Spirit Casino - LandShark Pool Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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The Venue Shrine
112 E. 18th St.
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 949-1345
Website »

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Lennie's Club & Grill
8181 E Skelly Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 743-6600
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Test your knowledge of art, pop culture, history, and Tulsa at Gilcrease's monthly night at the museum.

Where:
Gilcrease Museum
1400 N Gilcrease Museum Rd
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Telephone: (918) 596-2700
Website »

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Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 582-7669
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Cost: $45-$105

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River Spirit Casino - Paradise Cove
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

Registration for the 5K begins at 6:30 am. The race begins at 8am. Entry fee is $25. Proceeds go to Cleveland, Mannford, Keystone, Prue, Woodland, Pawnee, and Jennings schools.

Cost: $25

Where:
Cleveland High School
600 N Gilbert
Cleveland, OK  74020
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Sponsor: Cimarron Telephone Company
Telephone: 918-865-3311
Contact Name: Allee Pearson
Website »

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The Hardesty Center for Fab Lab Tulsa will host the fifth annual Tulsa Mini Make Faire on Saturday, August 26th, from 10am to 5pm in Central Park Hall at Expo Square.  The family-friendly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Central Park Hall at Expo Square
1701 S. Sandusky Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74112
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Sponsor: Fab Lab Tulsa
Telephone: 918-779-6025
Contact Name: Nathan Pritchett
Website »

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Join Garden staff for a walk to enjoy the summer colors and fragrances in the Garden. Tour starts at 1pm on both days. Tulsa Botanic Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm, and...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Website »

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THE ONLY SEAT BETTER THAN RINGSIDE!! Our knock-out prices include cover charge. $15 - Midway Viewing $25 - Reserved Bar Top Seating $50 - Private Viewing + Buffet Package $100 -...

Cost: Varies by Seating Choice

Where:
Dave & Buster's
6812 S. 105th E. Ave
HWY 169 | Behind Beat Buy
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Telephone: 918-449-3106
Contact Name: Katrina Mills
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A one-night only event in which comics will perform their sets while stripping. Because a good sense of humor is the most attractive thing.

Cost: $5

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 921-3535
Website »

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Learn about the music of Chamber Music TulsaÕs upcoming season in this lecture by musicologist Jason Heilman.

Where:
Central Library
400 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: (918) 549-7323
Website »

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The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
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Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

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Where:
River Spirit Casino - LandShark Pool Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Website »

More information

Cost: $5

Where:
The Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 949-1345
Website »

More information

See incredible contraptions and more as makers and creative people of all kinds show and tell at Tulsa Mini Maker Faire.

Where:
Expo Square - Central Park Hall
4145 E 21st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 599-9200
Website »

More information

Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 794-4208
Website »

More information

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Woody Guthrie Center
102 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: 918-574-2710
Website »

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Burlesque performers from around the state compete against their counterparts from Texas.

Cost: $18-$35

Where:
IDL Ballroom
230 E 1st St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: (918) 551-7447
Website »

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Making plans for this weekend? You can't do better than The Drunkard & The Olio at the historic Spotlight Theater. You know you've always wanted to go, and now's your chance. And if...

Cost: Adults $20, kids $12, seniors & military $17

Where:
Spotlight Theater
1381 Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74127
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More information

Cost: $10

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Telephone: (918) 921-3535
Website »

More information

Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $95

Where:
PostOak Lodge and Retreat
5323 WEST 31ST STREET NORTH
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Telephone: (918) 425-2112
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Where:
The Fur Shop
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 949-4292
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Where:
Yeti
417 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 936-4994
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Cost: $10

Where:
Vanguard
222 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (319) 804-9727
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Where:
George's Pub
108 N 1st St
Jenks, OK  74037
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Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 582-7669
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Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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