As Kennedy Hughes settled in on a picnic bench outside of Saints Pub with a cold glass of beer and his recent Thunder T-shirt purchase, he surveyed the hundreds of people combing through shops and visiting food vendors in the Plaza District.
“It's crazy to think how crappy this part of town was just a few years ago,” he said. “Now look, this is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening with friends getting great food or buying a shirt. It's amazing how far it's come.”
The 15th annual Plaza Festival went off without a hitch Saturday as thousands of people turned up to sample good food, drinks, live music and art on the 1700 block of NW 16, just west of Classen Boulevard.
Heavy early morning rains ended before the festival began at noon, allowing for the festival to start on time.
More than 40 artists' booths lined 16th Street while local bands Colourmusic, Tallows and Defining Times provided the soundtrack for the festival.
A giant flat screen TV was provided by COOP Ale Works for those who wanted to watch the Oklahoma State and Oklahoma football games. Fowler VW hosted a Bigfoot Calling Contest.
Hughes, 33, said he has lived in the neighborhood behind the plaza his entire life and loves that the area is a place people want to be now.
“Growing up our momma told us to avoid walking down 16th,” he said. “Now we have ‘Live on the Plaza' once a month and great bands that come and play. It's really boosted the morale of the entire area.”
Stephanie Davis, 26, and her husband love to shop in the area, and they stopped at RetrOKC to look at vintage furniture after snacking on ice cream.
“I just love this area for its unique stores,” she said. “You can get stuff here that you can't get anywhere else in the city.”