The Bricktown Canal opened 14 years ago, but the upcoming inaugural Rock the Boat festival will mark the first time the waterway has hosted live music, food vendors, pop-up retailers and free entertainment.
The Rock the Boat festival, from noon to 6 p.m. on Sept. 8, is being organized by Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., which is assuming some of the entertainment district's operations previously overseen by the Bricktown Association. Other organizers include Bricktown Water Taxi and retail consultant Allison Bailey.
Students from ACM@UCO will provide live music aboard the canal's water taxis, while face painting, table tennis, a photo booth, caricatures, balloon animals and magic shows will be among the entertainment mix offered along the canal just west of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
“For quite some time we've been hoping to see more events that tie the canal more closely into the unique entertainment options in Bricktown,” said Chad Huntington, manager of Water Taxi. “The canal is such a great venue by itself, and it's exciting to see an event that focuses on it directly.”
Huntington credits Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. with exploring a “new direction” for promotion of the Bricktown Canal.
“There has been a disorganized approach toward development and promotion of the canal historically,” Huntington said. “Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. has made it clear they want to go in new directions, and one of those directions is making the canal a focal point.”
Elizabeth Newton, event coordinator with Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., said Rock the Boat is part of an effort to boost programming along the canal and promote retailers and restaurants already operating along the waterway.
Bricktown Canal retailers include the Red Dirt Emporium, Bricktown Candy Company and Put a Cork In It, while restaurants include Zio's, Bourbon Street Café, Chelino's, and Mickey Mantle Steakhouse.
“This will provide a great mix of activities for locals and visitors alike,” Huntington said. “Hopefully it will spur further interest in future events and development along the canal.”