A version of this story appears in the Sunday Life section of The Oklahoman.
Oklahoma’s most festival time of the year
Although downtown Oklahoma City’s Festival of the Arts ends Sunday, outdoor celebrations abound across Oklahoma the first weekend of May.
Over the past five decades, the Festival of the Arts has become a beloved “rite of spring” in downtown Oklahoma City.
But the festivities have barely begun around the Sooner State.
Sunday marks this year’s last call for Strawberries Newport, with the 48th annual Festival of the Arts wrapping up another six-day celebration of the visual, performing and culinary arts.
Still, springtime is primetime for festival season, and the first weekend of May just might be the most festive time of all. From local flora and fauna to Oklahoma’s diverse ethnic heritages, here are some of the outdoor celebrations coming up this week:
Festival of the Arts: For many Oklahomans, it just isn’t springtime until the Arts Council of Oklahoma City and its legion of volunteers convert downtown into a sprawling community celebration of the visual, performing and culinary arts. Complete with Strawberries Newport, naturally. The festival ends Sunday with hours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Festival Plaza, on Hudson Avenue and at Myriad Botanical Gardens.Information: 270-4848 or www.artscouncilokc.com.
Downtown Edmond Arts Festival: The long-running event will feature the works of more than 100 artists, live entertainment, face painting, inflatables, sidewalk chalk fun and free evening concerts featuring Matt Stansberry & the Romance and The Wise Guys. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 4. Information: www.downtownedmondok.com.
May Fair Arts Festival, Norman: The two-day fest features many fine artists and quality craftsmen, plus artist demonstrations, children’s art activities and a student art show in Andrews Park, 201 W Daws St. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, with a 5K run starting at 8:30 a.m. and a free concert with local band Osage from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 4. Information: 321-9400 or www.norman.assistanceleague.
Calf Fry, Stillwater: The three-day is celebrating “23 years of turning bulls into steers” Thursday through Saturday at the Tumbleweed Dance Hall, Lakeview and Country Club roads. Last year’s “testicle festival” served up a record 3,000-plus pounds of calf fries to more than 30,000 attendees. The Turnpike Troubadours, Josh Abbott Band, Easton Corbin, Jason Boland and more are among the red dirt and country performers on this year’s lineup. Information: http://tumbleweedok.com.
Bixby BBQ ‘n Music Festival: The two-day event is part of the Kansas City Barbeque Society’s Great American BBQ Tour. Live music and children’s activities are on the menu, but naturally, the food is the main attraction at Washington Irving Park, 137th and S Memorial. On the second day, festivalgoers can buy a People’s Choice Award taster kit that will let them sample a select number of the teams’ offerings and help pick a winner. Hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Information: www.bixbyrotarybbq.com.
Yukon’s Festival of the Child: Yukon celebrates youth with more than 50 activities, including storytelling, pony rides, kayaking, crafts and more at Yukon City Park and Yukon Community Center, 2200 S Holly Ave. The activities are aimed at children ages 12 and younger. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Information: 354-8442 or www.cityofyukonok.gov.
El Reno Fried Onion Burger Day Festival: Children’s entertainment, a car display, drag boat exhibition and an extreme animal show are featured at the annual downtown event. This year’s musical lineup features Oklahoma talents the Mike McClure Band, Shiloh Station, Suckerpunch Suzie and more. But the primary draw is the 850-pound version of El Reno’s famous delicacy that local firefighters and volunteers cook up every year. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Information: 262-8888 or www.elrenoburgerday.com.
Prague Kolache Festival: If you prefer your festival-focused local fare on the sugary side, it’s hard to beat the flaky, fruity tastiness of these Czech pastries. But this festival isn’t just about snacking on little sweet breads filled with cherry, apricots and my personal favorite, poppy seeds, it’s also a fun salute of the town’s Czech heritage. Other activities happening on Main Street and around town include polka music, dancing, a parade, carnival and fireworks. Hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Information: .praguekolachefestival.
Iron Thistle Scottish Heritage Festival, Yukon: Sunday is the second and final day of the eight annual family-friendly celebration of Scottish tradition, which features bagpipe music, dancers, food and athletic contests ranging from fencing to the caber toss, in which participants hurl a large piece of wood as far as possible. Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Kirkpatrick Family Farm, 1001 Garth Brooks Blvd. Information: www.uscoscots.org.
Turkish Festival: The fifth annual festival will feature Turkish folk dances, traditional music, original arts and crafts, Turkish cuisine and demonstrations of a style of water marbling art known around the world as Ebru. The two-day event ends Sunday with hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Raindrop Turkish House, 4444 N Classen Blvd. Information: 702-0222 or www.raindropturkishhouse.org
Rose Rock Music Festival, Noble: Commemorating the town’s designation as the “Rose Rock Capital of the World,” the annual downtown event will feature live music from Oklahomans Edgar Cruz, Sugar Free Allstars, Parker Millsap, Tequila Songbirds, The Damn Quails and more, plus a car show, poker run, “Rose Rock Idol” competition and more. Hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Information: 872-5535 or www.nobleok.org.
Azalea Festival, Muskogee: Thousands of people flock to Honor Heights Park every April to enjoy the 30,000 blooming azaleas, as well as dogwoods, redbuds and other blooming plants. The monthlong festival, which ends Wednesday, also features paddleboats, carriage rides and more. Information: www.muskogeechamber.org.
Okeene Rattlesnake Round-Up: Billed as the oldest rattlesnake hunt in the world, Okeene’s 75th annual event has grown into a full-blown, four-day festival including a parade, carnival, horseshoe tournament, poker run, street dances and live music. The carnival opens Thursday afternoon, with downtown festivities uncoiling Friday, when snake hunt registration begins. The butcher shop opens Saturday, and the festival continues through May 4. Although I shudder at the thought, I must mention the festival’s Den of Death, where attendees can watch snake handlers put on a show with live rattlesnakes. (If you just can’t get enough rattlesnakes, the Waynoka Rattlesnake Round-Up and Mangum Rattlesnake Derby are ending Sunday, too.) Information: www.okeenesnakehunt.com.
Oklahoma Renaissance Festival, Muskogee: The 19th annual event launches its monthlong run Saturday at the the Castle of Muskogee, 3400 Fern Mountain Road. The family-friendly fest includes magicians, musicians, jugglers, jesters and other medieval-style performers, festive food and shopping for handcrafted items. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through June 1. Information: www.okcastle.com.
Rollin’ Thunder Rally: On Friday and Saturday, the OKC Downtown Airpark, 1701 S Western Ave., will roll out this inaugural event including a bike and car show, poker run, performances by Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue and live music from John Kay & Steppenwolf, Big & Rich and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Information: www.rollinthunderrally.com.