Imagine 40,000 people gathering for an Oklahoma tradition that has lasted 31 years. Dads walk around with corn dogs and goofy hats, mothers gaze wide-eyed at mountains of artwork, and little kids attempt to shake sand out of their shoes as they build their own masterpieces. At Arts Festival Oklahoma, this surreal scene comes to life, and this year, organizers expect it to be bigger than ever.
Every type of fine art, from pottery to acrylic paintings and photography, will fill the Oklahoma City Community College campus, 7777 S. May, this weekend, along with several musical artists playing everything from country to Elvis.
Several new attractions are showcasing at the three-day festival, including feature artist Russell Cooper. His work is inspired by nature and sports, and he uses vivid colors and various textures to bring his work to life.
The visual artists who showcase their work at the festival come from all over the country, said college spokeswoman Kim Holding.
"The main purpose of the festival is to provide cultural experiences for the community," she said.
This year's festival will continue to focus on family friendly activities. Holding said the Children's Activity Tent is a favorite spot for young festival-goers and their parents. Upon entering the tent, children are engulfed in a giant sandbox with plenty of space for them to create their own works of art.
Many families in the past have packed a picnic and sat on the ground, simply to enjoy the music and atmosphere, she said.
"The last night tops off with fireworks, which is always great for the families," Holding said.
The festival is free and open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.