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Three-day festival kicks off in historic Oklahoma City arts district

Displays, interactive exhibits are part of the Paseo Arts Festival in Oklahoma City, now in its 36th year.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Published: May 27, 2012

The Paseo Arts Festival is so green even its trash has become art.

Well, there really is a giant earthworm being stuffed with plastic bottles, but certifiable “greenness” won't come next year, said Jo Wise, executive director of the Paseo Arts Association

By then, Styrofoam food containers will be banned and there will be compost bins for leftovers that might normally be thrown in the trash, she said.

“It's an art festival, but we're trying to be community conscious at every level,” she said.

Now in its 36th year, three-day arts festival kicked off Saturday and will run through Monday in the historic Paseo District, Oklahoma City's most vibrant arts district.

More than 80 artists, local and from afar, have their work on display in an outdoor tent mall, with several stations set up for children to get some hands-on experience.

At “Paper Play Theater,” children construct and perform with puppets, and at the Children's Art Area they paint and build sculptures with clay.

Sixty performance artists representing a dozen or more genres perform on two stages, one of which has been designated for acoustic local talent only.

And then there's Picnicland, where several organizations are using the eco-friendly concepts that will be put into place festival-wide next year.

James Varnum, co-founder of the nonprofit SixTwelve and a Paseo District resident, said Picnicland is exhibits and hands-on displays that feature art in conjunction with sustainability.

At one station, children build bird feeders out of recycled oatmeal cartons; at another they make prints on Styrofoam plates. People can sign up for “smart hours” at an Oklahoma Gas and Electric booth and donate proceeds back to the district, and Science Museum Oklahoma is hosting a solar oven activity.

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If you go

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, with music Monday running until 7 p.m. For more information, go to


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