Making the Most of Mayfest

Tulsa's annual Mayfest made some changes this year, and we loved it!

Well, you can certainly tell that summer is imminent when there are several major events over a single weekend (not to mention the threats of thunderstorms and other forms of severe weather!) This past weekend, Joss and I attended Mayfest on Friday, Tulsa Botanic Garden’s DIG: Day in the Garden on Saturday, and I attended Habit Mural Festival on Sunday with a friend (a rare, kid-free outing, woot!). Since I took too many photos (oops!), here is a post just about Mayfest. Keep an eye out for posts about the other events as well!


In the past, Mayfest and Blue Dome Festival took place simultaneously in the heart of downtown Tulsa; this year, Tulsans had to say farewell to Blue Dome Festival, while Mayfest moved to the Tulsa Arts District, adding a Local Artists Alley to help mitigate the loss of Blue Dome Festival, which had focused on supporting local creators, whereas Mayfest draws artists from all over.

This is Joss before we left–almost wasn’t sure we would make it out of the house!

So how did these changes go over? I’ll have to admit that I hadn’t attended Mayfest in the last year or so–although I did take a verrry hot walk from the Arts District to the Blue Dome District with Joss last year for Blue Dome Festival. I think we were there all of 15 minutes before heading back to the car to escape the heat. And while I was nervous about looking for parking in the Tulsa Arts District–which can be difficult even on non-festival days–as long as you’re prepared to walk a few blocks, it didn’t seem too bad, at least on Friday night. Alternately, we saw lots with parking available for anywhere from $5 (across from Soundpony) to $20 (closer to the Brady Theater).

Joss and I ran into an acquaintance from Just Between Friends–Tulsa on our walk back to the car, and she mentioned that there seemed to be more young families at this year’s Mayfest than in the past. I can’t confirm this, but it did seem to be a well attended event by people of all ages–and plenty of pooches, too!

By good fortune (and completely by accident), Joss and I entered Mayfest right at the Kids Zone, which was in front of the Channel 6 building. He was hooked as soon as he saw a game of hopscotch taped to the ground. Other activities included painting a dumpster (that will later be placed at Mother Road Market), water play, getting a goodie bag with water safety information from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, rock painting, face painting, lawn games and–Joss’s favorite–using yarn to create a large “God’s Eye” (see photo below). Joss liked this last activity so much that he wanted to go back to Mayfest the following day; but as it was raining, he ended up being satisfied with wrapping sewing thread around his umbrella.


Kids Zone Activities…God’s Eye in lower right corner

All the volunteers at the Kids Zone were very helpful, from showing Joss how to use textured paintbrushes to making sure he knew about a bean-bag-toss lawn game that you could do for a prize, to catching his inexpertly-thrown frisbee.

Alas, because bedtime comes early, Joss did not get to linger at the Kids Zone as long as he would like, but that’s the way it goes.

Our next stop was another highlight of this year’s Mayfest: A block of 12 pianos painted by local students, in partnership with Saied Music. This project is called “Play Me, Tulsa,” and the plan is for the pianos to be distributed around town to public, outdoor locations through the end of July, bringing more music to our community that all can enjoy.


Despite reading a large map, I got turned around and had trouble finding the Local Artists section, which was in the old Spaghetti Warehouse parking lot, bordered by several food trucks. Because it was getting close to dinner time, we only browsed briefly, but we did make a couple fun purchases at Tiny Things by Bowen (Joss reallly needed a red dinosaur, and I needed a rainbow cake with rainbow sprinkles lapel pin for a costume)–If you don’t know about Tiny Things by Bowen, read Diane Morrow-Kondos’ Grand Life blog post about it here. I am always so impressed by the detail Sarah Bowen puts into her clay creations–and now she’s experimenting with adding scent as well! So exciting! I was also pleased to see 3rd Street Clayworks‘ booth because my husband and I took clay classes from Jeff Wells there, long, long ago (okay, it wasn’t that long ago, but it was well before Joss came along!) and I am looking forward to the day that Joss can be trusted in a studio full of ceramics so we can get back to mug-making! If you have any interest in learning how to use a potter’s wheel, check them out! While I didn’t need to make any pottery purchases Friday evening, a basket full of clay faces sitting by the register caught my eye; upon inquiry, they said that they were free–Jeff makes them just for the kids. So Joss chose a red one and named it Marshmallow. 🙂


One of the best things about Mayfest moving to the Tulsa Arts District (in my opinion) is its proximity to some of the restaurants and businesses I love to visit anyway. For example, Lone Wolf went all out in creating Mayfest specials, including a banh mi hot dog (delicious!) and watermelon sorbet boat (ditto). I know one of the draws of Mayfest is the carnival-style food, but…that banh mi hot dog was fantastic; plus, eating indoors means a non-porta-potty bathroom option, which is a definite win for me! Joss did also talk me into a pre-dinner milkshake at a food truck whose name I don’t recall, but they were very nice, even offering him his choice of straw color 🙂


“Marshmallow” guarding my hot dog

Since Mayfest is an arts festival drawing artists from outside of Oklahoma, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that aspect of it. I’m rarely in the market for big-budget works of art, so again, we didn’t spend a lot of time at each booth, but we did see a lot of eye-catching works, like the tiny cottages below (left) and these colorful bird houses!


All in all, I thought this year’s Mayfest was a lot of fun, and I probably enjoyed it more than I have in the past, although that could be because the weather was so nice on Friday evening and because Joss is older and can enjoy it more himself. Did you go to Mayfest this year? What did you think of the changes?

Categories: Spaghetti on the Wall