This year, Tulsa International Mayfest is heading north for the spring.
The 46th annual celebration of the arts will migrate to the Tulsa Arts District just north of downtown for three days of art shows and sales, concerts and food ranging from the common corn dog to offerings from some of Tulsa’s finest food trucks.
And, with the shuttering of the Blue Dome Arts Festival, which for many years ran concurrently with Mayfest, festival organizers say they have made a concerted effort to include more local artists in this year’s Mayfest.
The Blue Dome Festival was for 15 years a showcase as many as 250 local artists, artisans and craftspeople in recent years. However, in November, festival director Jo Armstrong announced that she was cancelling the 2019 festival, citing as reasons lack of space in the Blue Dome District, new beverage laws and insufficient staff, among others.
“We hadn’t yet made the decision to relocate to the Tulsa Arts District when it was announced that the Blue Dome was closing,” said Debby Raskin, president of the Mayfest board of directors and chair of the visual arts committee.
“Mayfest has always looked for ways to incorporate more local artists into our festival, because we think it’s important to the community,” Raskin said. “So we made the commitment to find space for local artists, even though this was before we made the decision to move the festival to the Arts District.”
Raskin said Mayfest reached out to a number of local artists, including some that had participated in the Blue Dome Festival, as well as artists with whom board members were familiar.
“We’re going to have about 60 local artists,” Raskin said. “They will be set up in what used to be the Spaghetti Warehouse parking lot. Our Youth Art Gallery will be on display at Living Arts of Tulsa, which is right across the street, and the Mayfest Juried Art Competition, which typically features national artists, will include about five to 10 local artists.”
Because the decision to make the move came relatively late in the festival planning process, Mayfest was not able to find a location to house what had been its primary local arts showcase, the Invitational Gallery.
Raskin said it is likely the Invitational Gallery will return next year.