Art lovers, local music devotees, foodies, families with children, pets with people and even football fanatics are invited to celebrate one of Oklahoma City's hottest hot spots at Saturday's Plaza District Festival.
With the now-bustling area growing in popularity and population, the annual street festival is adding more attractions, bands and community partners.
“It's great because now we have so many people who want to be involved with the district on the volunteer level,” said festival co-chairwoman Bailey Gordon. “It's not just people who enjoy coming and hanging out here but also people who really want to see it grow. That was really exciting for us to be able to recruit so many people who really are excited about what's going on here to help us out. We're just trying to mix it up this year and do some different things.”
As usual, the free Plaza District Festival will exclusively showcase Oklahoma artists, performers and food trucks, along with myriad businesses, galleries and restaurants in the 1700 block of NW 16, just west of Classen. Taste of Soul Chicken and Waffles, Roxy's Ice Cream Social and Heo's Kitchen are among the many local food trucks expected at the event.
The festival, set for noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, is a fundraiser for the Plaza District Association, with beer and T-shirt sales benefiting the nonprofit.
More than 40 tents will line NW 16, which will be closed during the event, to exhibit the wares of established, emerging and student artists.
“It's everything: jewelry, photography, painting, handmade crafts, pottery,” said Kristen Vails, Plaza District Association executive director. “It's a pretty diverse group.”
The festival also will have two stages featuring a wide array of performing artists, including district favorites like Lyric Theatre, Everything Goes Dance Studio and the Classen School of Advanced Studies marching band.
Stillwater experimental rockers Colourmusic will headline the event, and other main stage performers include Tallows, Defining Times and Jabee. Singer-songwriters Chris Neal, Allie Lauren and Kaitlin Butts will be among the acoustic stage acts. In addition, festivalgoers of all ages can make their own wild music at the festival's third annual Bigfoot Calling Contest.
“We've never really done like a true headliner. We've always just kind of had bands playing,” Gordon said. “I'd say that some of the bands that we've gotten are even bigger than the ones we've had in the past. We've always had great bands play and great solo acts. But I'd say that, especially with the addition of Colourmusic, some of the bigger local bands were really quick to sign on.”
Large inflatable toys, a plant-your-own-flower station and art-creating activities like mask making and mural painting are planned for young festivalgoers, plus local kindie rocker Spaghetti Eddie will play at noon on the main stage.
Science Museum Oklahoma and Norman's Firehouse Art Center are among the community partners that will help out in the children's area; the Humane Society will hold a pet adoption drive; and DNA Racing will provide a bike valet, a new offering for festivalgoers who choose to pedal to the event.
“Some of the improvements we've added are additional seating and things like that, so people really can stay and hang out for a while and enjoy the festival,” Gordon said.
Another big addition will be a tailgate area with COOP Aleworks beer and a 60-inch television where football fans can watch the University of Oklahoma-Notre Dame game and the matchup between Oklahoma State University and West Virginia.
“Hopefully, the sports fans will come out ... and take advantage of it. They can come and grab a beer and watch the game for a little while and then go listen to some music or check out the artists,” Gordon said. “It's a really action-packed festival for one day. So you know that no matter what time you go, there's gonna be something fun going on and there's gonna be plenty to do.”
Although some may view the Plaza District as a kind of hipster haven, Vails said more people of all walks of life are discovering it thanks to the monthly Live on the Plaza art walks.
“That's the reason we do the festival is to bring people to the district — and to celebrate our progress and our talent in Oklahoma City,” she said.