In its 37th year, Oklahoma City Community College’s (OCCC) Arts Festival Oklahoma (AFO) draws thousands of patrons with an eclectic mix of visual art, performing artists and a mouthwatering array of food choices.
The annual festival will be held Labor Day weekend, Saturday, Sept. 5, through Monday, Sept. 7, and is located on the north end of the OCCC campus, S.W. 74th and May Avenue. On-site parking is $5 per vehicle.
Visual artists from all over the country will offer a diverse collection of work for festival guests including; drawings, fine crafts, glass art, jewelry, mixed media, oil/acrylic, watercolor, pastels, photography, pottery, sculpture and wood art. More than 100 art booths will cover the festival this year.
Also a popular spot on the AFO grounds, the children’s activity tent will overflow with glitter and glue, ribbon and yarn, paint and brushes – ready for the youngest AFO artist to create their very own masterpiece. Children can also play in a giant sandbox and get their faces painted by a juried face-painting artist.
Guests will also be able to view and participate in several live art demonstrations including wood turning, clay pottery and glass blowing.
The 2015 featured artist is Dallas, Texas-based Robert Wardle. Robert studied art at the College of Eastern Utah and the University of Utah. His work, self-described as contemporary realism in watercolor, has been displayed in nearly 30 museums, nature centers, galleries and private collections throughout the Southwest.
Guests will be treated to musical acts on two different stages all weekend long, provided by groups from around the city and state. Music to please all patrons includes classical, country, Latin, pop and more. Headlining acts include We the Ghost Saturday night and the OKC Philharmonic Sunday night.
We the Ghost is an Oklahoma-based pop rock band that recently saw their single “Let Me Know” appear at the #4 spot on Billboard Magazine’s Hot Singles Sales Chart. The 90-minute show will be held inside the college’s Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater. Tickets for the performance are $10 and can be purchased in advance at tickets.occc.edu.
A popular festival draw Sunday evening, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic packs the lawn in front of the orchestra stage each year. As the sun goes down on day two, the Philharmonic will present classics, orchestral pops, discovery family concerts and more.
Keep your seat after the Philharmonic performs, and enjoy the fireworks display after the sun sets Sunday, Sept. 6.
The festival also features several brand new special events this year. National Theatre Live is the prestigious, UK-based National Theatre’s groundbreaking project to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas across the UK and around the world. On Saturday, patrons will have the opportunity to see the family-friendly “Treasure Island.” James Franco stars in the Broadway production “Of Mice and Men” Sunday. Helen Mirren’s Tony Award winning turn as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Audience” will show Monday. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $5 for students for each show, and the productions will be shown in the college’s state-of-the-art Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater.
Also premiering at AFO, is the avant garde group Squonk Opera. Blending music with surreal visuals, composer Jackie Dempsey and artist Steve O’Hearn work with an ensemble of 10-20 artists to create post-industrial performances with original music, design and staging, outside the rules of mass culture, fashion or academia. Audiences may remember the group from their 2011 appearance on the NBC reality show “America’s Got Talent,” making it to the top 48 and performing live for 14 million viewers. The current touring show, “Pneumatica,” features an array of inflatables that dance in the air and engage audiences. Patrons will be treated to free showings of “Pneumatica” Saturday and Sunday.
For car enthusiasts, the Oklahoma Mustang Club show will be held Saturday, featuring dozens of Mustangs from the past several decades.
Come hungry because AFO boasts mouthwatering food concessions including funnel cakes, foot-long corn dogs and giant turkey legs. This year, the festival will have these alongside the following delicious festival favorites: barbecue pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches, roasted sweet corn, Indian tacos, cinnamon roasted almonds, pecans and cashews, kettle corn and tradition popcorn, fried Twinkie-on-a-stick, fruit smoothies and shaved ice, soft serve ice cream, chicken-on-a-stick, homemade fry bread, cinnamon rolls, nachos, baked potatoes, barbecue, gyros and more.
Guests are also invited to “Crescendo,” a fundraising event for Arts Festival Oklahoma Sunday, Sept. 6, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets include festival parking, special reserved outdoor seating for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic performance or the option to view the live simulcast inside the VPAC Theater, a Friends-of-the-Festival membership, live entertainment, a selection of food from Oklahoma City’s finest restaurants and a selection of wines and beers. For more information about “Crescendo” or to purchase tickets, visit /crescendo.
AFO is a success due to dedication and support of more than 500 volunteers each year. The college is currently accepting volunteers for this year’s festival.
Festival hours are Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. OCCC is located at S.W. 74th and May Avenue. For more information, call (405) 682-7576 or visit the Arts Festival Oklahoma website at /afo.