A version of this column appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
The price is right
Free summer concerts, movies, festivities abound
Memorial Day has passed, the calendar is about to turn over to June, and for most Oklahoma City area youngsters, school’s out for summer.
That means freedom. Three glorious months of freedom.
Fortunately for parents already bracing themselves for the dreaded whines of “I’m bored,” summer also means free.
Metro area libraries, parks and recreation departments, and arts organizations are planning free concerts, film screenings, theatrical performances, festivals and more to keep families entertained during the long, hot months to come. We’re not even talking about the July 4 holiday here; we’ve got you covered on a random Thursday during the dog days.
At the library
As if books, DVDs, CDs, computer access and air conditioning weren’t enough, the Metropolitan Library System is the place to find free live indoor entertainment every summer. The annual Neighborhood Arts program begins Monday and continues through July 25, offering music, theater or opera performances at one or more Metro Library location every weekday.
The slate for this year includes the “funky and fresh” jams of the Sugar Free Allstars, Reduxion Theatre’s original “Classics for Kids” productions, the colorful storytelling of the Rhythmically Speaking acting troupe, the improvised hilarity of OKC Improv, the rich Latin sounds of Alegria Real, and the grand drama of Cimarron Opera.
“Neighborhood Arts is a partnership between the Metropolitan Library System and the Arts Council of Oklahoma City. This partnership has been going on more years than I can remember. It brings the best local performance to our young customers all over the county. With 20 performances per week and a different performance group each week, you can be assured to never be bored,” said Dana Morrow, the library system’s outreach director, in an email.
Plus, children of all ages and even adults can sign up for the revamped Summer Reading Program, through which you can get incentives for reading. How cool is that?
This weekend, the Arts Council of Oklahoma City is launching its 34th Annual Sunday Twilight Concert Series at 7:30 p.m. with a classically rocking performance by Zoom City at Bicentennial Park, 500 Coach Drive. Blues rockers Kalo also will play Bicentennial Park June 8 before the series moves to the Great Lawn Stage at the Myriad Botanical Gardens for the rest of its season, which runs through Sept. 28.
The lineup for this year’s Sunday Twilight series includes popular local favorites like Kyle Dillingham & Horseshoe Road, Edgar Cruz, The Wurly Birds, Shortt Dogg, Paperscissor and Gregory Jerome.
Plus, the Myriad Gardens will host two top Oklahoma singer-songwriters for special concerts this summer at the Great Lawn Stage: Samantha Crain will play a free show at 8 p.m. July 4, while John Fullbright will perform a complimentary concert at 8 p.m. Aug. 1.
In Norman, the Summer Breeze Concerts continue at 7:30 p.m. Sunday with The Salsa Shakers shaking it at Lions Park, Flood and Symmes. The series continues every other Sunday, and the slate includes the Red Dirt Rangers, Handsome Devils, honeyhoney and more.
Thursday night also seems a popular time for metro communities to host their weekly summer concerts. In the Myriad Gardens, Ice House Plaza is the spot for Acoustic Thursdays throughout June and July. The series typically showcases two performers per evening — contemporary R&B player Jade Castle and jazz-pop songstress Tara Dillard are up next Thursday — with the music lasting from 5 to 7 p.m.
The Midwest City Summer Concerts in the Park start next week at 7 p.m. at Joe B. Barnes Regional Park, 8700 E Reno, with the bluegrass sounds of Higher Ground. Singer-songwriter Travis Linville, folk duo North Meets South and blues outfit Roland Bowling Band also will play during the series, which continues through July 31.
In Edmond, the Hafer Park Summer Concert series features two bands every Thursday from 6:15 to 8:45 p.m. at the park, 1034 S Bryant. Mike Black & the Stingrays and The Gotcha Band will deliver the musical double-header next week.
Yukon’s Concert in the Park series will kick off June 12 with a special “Bark at the Park” event at Chisholm Trail Park, 500 W Vandament. Owners can register their pooches at 6 p.m. for doggie contests that start at 6:30 p.m. Smilin’ Vic and the Soul Monkeys will play blues and soul from 7 to 8:30 p.m., followed by a dog-friendly movie that will screen in the canal area of the park.
The Yukon concert series will continue at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 14 at Chisholm Trail Park, with Movie in the Park screenings also offered June 19, July 17 and Aug. 7.
Midwest City’s Sunset Cinemas will bring free films at dusk Sundays through July 27 at Charles J. Johnson Central Park at Town Center. The series starts this weekend with “Monsters University”; “Space Jam,” “Remember the Titans” and, of course, “Frozen,” are among the titles coming soon.
The Myriad Gardens will throw out the first pitch for its Sonic Summer Movie Nights at 9 p.m. July 2 with “Field of Dreams.” The free outdoor film series on the Great Lawn will continue on Wednesday nights through Aug. 13, and along with the ubiquitous “Frozen,” the slate includes “Ghostbusters,” “The Lego Movie” and “Pitch Perfect.”
The deadCenter Film Festival also will offer three free nighttime screenings on the Myriad Gardens Great Lawn: a 30th anniversary screening of “Footloose,” based on real events in Elmore City, June 13; the Memphis music documentary “Take Me to the River,” followed by a concert featuring some of the musicians in the film, June 14; and the rock doc “Aerosmith: Rock for the Rising Sun” June 15.
Although fall and spring are the most popular seasons for festivals, families can look forward to several free festivities coming soon to the metro area.
The Myriad Gardens are turning every Saturday in June into the Great Lawn Games, where families can gather from 9 to 11 a.m. to play croquet, horseshoes, bocce, jumbo dominos and lawn bowling on the Great Lawn.
The second annual Rock the Boat festival will offer free family fun and live music from noon to midnight June 7 along the Bricktown Canal. The event will include free face painting, caricatures, bounce house and free Water Taxi tickets while supplies last. The Sugar Free AllStars, Allie Lauren, Jumpship Astronaut, Them Apples and more will provide the soundtrack.
El Reno’s 16th Annual Small Town Weekend will celebrate the Mother Road with live music and a poker walk the evening of June 6 and daylong festivities June 7-8 at the local stretch of Route 66 and at Adams Park, 2001 Park Drive. Hosted by the El Reno Cruisers, the event will feature legal drag racing, a car show, Hot Wheels race for the kids and more.
In Yukon, the annual Chisholm Trail & Crawfish Festival will serve up crawfish and other Cajun treats, a wild West show, live music, historical reenactors and more family fun from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 7 at Kirkpatrick Family Farm, 1001 S Garth Brooks Blvd.
Tinker Air Force Base will bring back its free Star Spangled Salute Air Show, with U.S. Air Force Thunderbird aerial demonstration team headlining, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 21-22.
TO KNOW MORE
FREE SUMMER FUN IN THE OKC METRO
Metropolitan Library System’s Neighborhood Arts: www.metrolibrary.org.
Sunday Twilight Concert Series: www.artscouncilokc.com/twilight-concerts.
Myriad Botanical Gardens events: www.myriadgardens.org.
Norman’s Summer Breeze Concerts: www.normandepot.org.
Midwest City summer concerts and movies: http://midwestcityok.org.
Edmond Hafer Park Summer Concerts: http://edmondok.com.
Yukon summer concerts and movies: www.cityofyukonok.gov.
deadCenter Film Festival: www.deadcenterfilm.org.
Rock the Boat festival: http://downtownokc.com/rocktheboat.
El Reno’s 16th Annual Small Town Weekend: www.ercruisers.com.
Yukon’s Chisholm Trail & Crawfish Festival: www.chisholmtrail.org.
Star Spangled Salute Air Show: www.tinker.af.mil/airshow.