Jeff Bennett

Oklahoma decathlete narrowly missed a medal at the 1972 Olympic Games.



Jeff Bennett coaches Oklahoma Christian University multi-events competitor Audrey Hayes at the Oklahoma Baptist University Invitational Meet in Shawnee in March 2016.

Photos courtesy OC Athletics

One-time Olympian Jeff Bennett still vividly recalls when he first caught the track and field bug.

“I was watching the pole vault in the 1960 Olympics on our black and white television. I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” remembers Bennett, then 12 years old.

As a high school freshman, Bennett also took an interest in the long jump and hurdles. But the pole vault was his main event. As a senior, he won the state title after taking second place the two previous years. 

He went on to Oklahoma Christian College (now Oklahoma Christian University), where he ran the 400-meter hurdles, winning the national meet his sophomore year as he simultaneously started training in the decathlon.

“I would high jump before practice and then try to throw the shot put or discus after my workout,” Bennett says.

Bennett prepares to pole vault at Oklahoma Christian College in 1970.

He holds school records in the 400-meter hurdles and decathlon, was a four-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American and a member of the NAIA and Oklahoma Christian University Athletics Halls of Fame. 

After graduating from OCC in 1970, Bennett accepted a teaching job in Midwest City but still planned to compete in decathalons. 

However, just a month after school started, he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

Expecting to be sent to Vietnam, Bennett knew the Army had a track team and was looking for exceptional athletes to represent the military. By joining the team, he was relieved from an assignment in Vietnam. From March until the end of the summer Bennett served as an athlete. The rest of his days were spent as a filing clerk for the headquarter division. 

“I look back at that as a true blessing,” he says. “I was going to teach school, work out on my own and pay my own way to the meets. The Army became my vehicle for training.”

While in the Army, Bennett seized the opportunity to participate in the 1972 Olympic trials and qualified. He says he felt intense pressure to perform well just to make the team going to Munich.

The day before the Olympic decathlon was scheduled to start, terrorists took several Israeli athletes and coaches hostage. Ultimately, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches, a West German policeman and five terrorists were killed.

“It was like a roller coaster of emotions,” Bennett remembers. “No one knew what was going to happen. Would the Games continue? I realized, ‘If they cancel the Games, I may never get another chance.’”

Officials decided to resume the competition, but Bennett did notice a change. Soldiers with automatic weapons replaced the friendly guides at the gates. 

Bennett, who was the smallest decathlon competitor at just 5 feet, 8 inches and 152 pounds, excelled in the running events and the pole vault.

Finishing third in the 100 meters, second in the 400 meters and winning the pole vault offset his lesser marks in the strength events such as the shot put and discus.

Going into the final event, the 1,500-meter run, Bennett was in a distant 13th place. But a courageous performance resulted in a second-place finish in the race that pushed him to fourth place overall — 10 points from the bronze medal.

A half-inch in the long jump or a 10th of a second in the 100 meters would have made the difference and earned Bennett a medal.

“I spent some sleepless nights thinking where I could have made up 10 points,” he says. “But I soon realized that it was just a tremendous experience to compete against the top athletes and finish fourth in the world.”

USA teammates Bruce Jenner and Bennett at the New Zealand Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1975.

 

The next year, he won the Amateur Athletic Union national decathlon championship, but injuries prevented him from competing in the 1976 Olympics, and he eventually hung up his spikes.

Bennett served 30 years in the National Guard while teaching and coaching in the Oklahoma City area before retiring from public education.

But Bennett is still making an impact as an assistant track coach at Oklahoma Christian, where he also serves as associate dean of students. 



The Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games will broadcast on NBC starting Aug. 5. The decathlon competition is scheduled for Aug. 17-18.

 

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January 2018

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

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Oklahoma City Museum of Art
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This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

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Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
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This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Cost: Free with admission

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Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
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Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
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Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Website »

More information

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Telephone: 918-631-4400
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Cost: Free and Open to the Public

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Cost: $12/class or $10 with punch card

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A Modern Dance inspired exercise class. Fifty minutes of fun, freedom, and flow.  Who: ALL levels Bring: movement clothes, layers, cotton socks When: Wednesdays, Nov. 29 - Dec. 20,...

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108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
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Ninowski Recreation Center
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This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-631-4400
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More information

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Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-631-4400
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On Jan 18, Kendra Scott will hold a special event in her Utica Square Store where shoppers can enjoy champagne, wine, non-alcoholic drinks and sweet treats from 5 - 7 p.m.  A portion of the...

Cost: Free

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Kendra Scott
1842 Utica Square
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: LIFE Senior Services
Telephone: 918-664-9000
Contact Name: Emily Fox

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Cost: Free

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108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
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Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
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Cost: Free admission

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Kendra Scott
1842 Utica Square
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Meinig Recital Hall, Lorton Performance Center
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Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

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777 W Cherokee St
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1621 E 11th St
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Soundpony
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Cost: $10

Where:
The Vanguard
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Cost: $5

Where:
The Venue Shrine
112 E 18th St
Tulsa, OK
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The Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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The Fur Shop
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK
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2809 S Harvard Ave
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This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

For only January and February - four-legged family members can join you for a walk at the Botanic Garden - Fridays and Saturdays in January and February only.  Dogs must be on a leash (no...

Cost: FREE for Garden members and member dogs; Regular admission for non-members and $

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


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

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival, Arthouse 18 presents the quintessential photo exhibit of this groundbreaking rock festival. The photographs are from the...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-631-4400
Website »

More information

This photographic journey shines a bright light on true game-changers who had something poignant, meaningful and often prophetic to say – people who pondered, practiced, processed and...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-631-4400
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

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Contact improv is about choices, listening, sharing and generosity. It is a partner dance form based on the physical principles of touch, momentum, shared weight, and most quintessentially -...

Cost: $18.75 or $15 with punch card

Where:
Fly Loft studio 3
117 N Boston
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Where:
Lefty's On Greenwood
10 N Greenwood Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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Where:
Fassler Hall
304 S Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Osage Casino Tulsa - NINE18 Bar
951 W 36th St N
Tulsa, OK
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The Oklahoma Music Educators Association presents concerts featuring their Honor Band, All-State chorus, and All-State instrumental ensemble.

Cost: $18

Where:
Chapman Music Hall, Tulsa PAC
110 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Centennial Lounge at VFW Post 577
1109 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $13-$54

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Bistro at Seville
10021 S Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Crystal Skull
1005 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Wyld Hawgz
6151 E 31st St
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $13-$54

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Philbrook Downtown hosts a special conversation with guest curator Colin Tuis Nesbit on the New/Now show, which features works by Tulsa Artist Fellows. The show will feature behind-the-scenes...

Cost: $20

Where:
Philbrook Downtown
116 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Run
3141 E Skelly Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Starlite
1902 E 11th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Max Retropub
114 S Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $5

Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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For only January and February - four-legged family members can join you for a walk at the Botanic Garden - Fridays and Saturdays in January and February only.  Dogs must be on a leash (no...

Cost: FREE for Garden members and member dogs; Regular admission for non-members and $

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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This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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This photographic journey shines a bright light on true game-changers who had something poignant, meaningful and often prophetic to say – people who pondered, practiced, processed and...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918-631-4400
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In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival, Arthouse 18 presents the quintessential photo exhibit of this groundbreaking rock festival. The photographs are from the...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918-631-4400
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All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will be allowed in to all 2017-18 ORU Athletics ticketed sports. ALL KIDS – IT’S FREE! is strictly a promotion. These tickets have no...

Cost: $12, $17, $22

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: Mabee Center
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Box Office
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Green up your surroundings in January! Register now for this hands-on workshop where you will create a living art piece (12" x 12") of succulents nestled into a wood frame. You can keep...

Cost: $85 for Garden members; $95 for non-members

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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In this exhibition, 108 | Contemporary will feature Oklahoma artist members by hosting a juried survey of their work. Included pieces will be constructed from fiber, wood, ceramics, metal, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

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Toyland Ball, held every January, is The Parent Child Center of Tulsa’s annual signature fundraising event. This black tie gala with a whimsical theme offers an elegant evening of dinner and...

Cost: $300-$25,000

Where:
Cox Business Center
100 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: The Parent Child Center of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-599-7999
Contact Name: Melody Hughes
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All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will be allowed in to all 2017-18 ORU Athletics ticketed sports. ALL KIDS – IT’S FREE! is strictly a promotion. These tickets have no...

Cost: $12, $17, $22

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: Mabee Center
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

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Planned Parenthood Great Plains hosts this Women's March after-party, which will feature a Feminist Art Wall where purchases benefit Planned Parenthood.

Where:
Mainline
111 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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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
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The Spontaniacs! present “The 2018 Show”.  Yes, it's really here!  The show that's been 2,018 years coming!  Join us now as centuries of anticipation culminate at...

Cost: $8.00

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: The Spontaniacs!
Telephone: 918-521-9345
Contact Name: Eric Peterson
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Where:
El Coyote Manco
2160 S Garnett Rd
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Crystal Skull
1005 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $20-$35

Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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Where:
Magoo's Billiards
5002 S Memorial Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Lot No. 6
1323 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Lefty's On Greenwood
10 N Greenwood Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
C'Yote Club
822 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Bull and Bear Tavern
5800 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $8

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $13-$54

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa, OK
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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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Cost: $10-$40

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $15-$44

Where:
Reynolds Center
3208 E 8th St
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $37-$62

Where:
Brady Theater
105 W M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Bad Ass Renee's
6373 E 31st St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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The Mindfreak unplugged.

Cost: $99-$129

Where:
The Joint at Hard Rock Casino
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
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The Quartet in Residence at The University of Delaware, Serafin String Quartet takes its name from master luthier Sanctus Serafin, who in 1728 crafted the violin SSQ violinist Kate Ransom plays.

Where:
Gussman Concert Hall, Lorton Performance Center
550 S Gary Pl
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $35-$55

Where:
River Spirit Casino - Paradise Cove
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
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This free event will feature yoga workshops and lectures on alternative forms of medicine, including Reiki, Ayurveda, and herbal health.

Where:
Peace of Mind Books
1401 E 15th St
Tulsa, OK
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The Scottish Club of Tulsa and ScotFest host their annual tribute to the national bard of Scotland, Robert Burns. The event features a haggis dinner, scotch whisky,and readings of Burns' poetry.

Cost: $70-$110

Where:
Wyndham Hotel Tulsa
10918 E 41st St
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $15-$44

Where:
Reynolds Center
3208 E 8th St
Tulsa, OK
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Cost: $10-$40

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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Cost: $8

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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Cost: $13-$54

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

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Where:
Wyld Hawgz
6151 E 31st St
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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Where:
The Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
The Fur Shop
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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Cost: $5

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

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Where:
The Max Retropub
114 S Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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Where:
The Pit Stop
816 Sheridan
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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Where:
The Run
3141 E Skelly Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Osage Casino Tulsa - NINE18 Bar
951 W 36th St N
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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TULtalk


What are you doing this weekend?

Stumped on what to do this weekend in Tulsa? Take this short quiz and we'll plan the weekend for you, January 18-21.

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QUIZ: Which Iconic Tulsa hat are you?

Find out whether you're a wide-brimmed wonder or ten-gallon titan.

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QUIZ: What kind of soup are you?

Are you more of a sassy sweet potato curry or a cool cucumber gazpacho? Find out in this fun quiz, then get the recipe!

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2018 Charitable Events Calendar

A comprehensive look at at Tulsa's charitable events of 2018.

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GIVEAWAY: Win 2 tickets to NYE at the Mayo!

Take an intergalactic journey into 2018 at the Mayo Hotel's Interstellar Soiree!

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