I survived. Even with Sunday's 2:30pm bullhorn call announcing free beer at McNellie's. I survived.
I know you are kicking yourself. Why did you leave at 2:25pm? Why did you stay home to watch golf on TV? Garden Ridge never serves free beer. There isn't even a chance of it, so why were you shopping for faux plants to accent your fireplace?
It's deflating to think I have to wait a whole year for another Blue Dome Festival or MayFest or Art Car Parade. Seeing downtown Tulsa so vibrant was just what I needed. And, for many of the vendors, just what they needed, too.
I've heard talk of record crowds and great sales. Congratulations, vendors!
Both MayFest and Blue Dome were fun to tour for different reasons, albeit both offered a considerable amount of dust from all the construction.
MayFest has more music and bigger stages and larger slabs of turkey. It's fun to watch. The crowds are bigger, the event is bigger, but I don't see as many familiar faces in the MayFest booths. I'm a young Tulsan. It was my first MayFest. I don't know great masses of Tulsans, but I know even fewer people from Eureka Springs or Missouri or Topeka.
Civic pride is a tricky thing. We all want to be proud of our home, our city. We want to tell our friends who are not Tulsans that Tulsa is great. "Aaron, it's so much more than a pretty skyline and tall buildings." But, there is a catch (always is) civic pride requires activity.
Tulsa won't grow and flourish without those familiar faces aiding in its improvement.
At the same time we don't want to be xenophobic. People of Tulsa aren't necessarily any better than those of Topeka. There're just here, in Tulsa. It's all about a delicate balance.
That balance is how I view the two festivals as a Tulsa festival rookie.
MayFest attracts more people. Hell, it's called the Tulsa International MayFest. Tulsans recognize the value of the festival, so do non-Tulsans. It has free music, delicious food, and an opportunity to run into another attendee from your past and have that potentially awkward conversation about high school.
"Oh, Dana. Hi. It's crazy seeing you here. Crazy. It's been, what, 12 years?"
From there it could go any number of directions. Let's hope she doesn't choose to bring up dumping you for Liam, that foreign exchange student with the accent, in front of your new, youthful, buxom girlfriend. That could be unpleasant.
The Blue Dome Arts Festival featured more than 100 artists with much more talent for creating things than I could ever hope to possess. Not all of it was fabulous, but all of it was better than I could do and some had me down right smitten.
Most of the artists were from Tulsa, giving the crowd a chance to see some of the best handmade goods or art Tulsans have to offer. An opportunity to say or hear said: "Oh my gosh. You see that guy over there with the really hip jewelry? Yeah, we dated in high school and stuff. I always knew he'd make it. He actually pushed me to make stuff, said there was a future in it, but I was too caught up in cheerleading. He was so right."
The music on the Blue Dome stage was small time, but no less entertaining. At one point I observed a musician dressed as a pirate/Elton John mix leading a conga line of belly dancers. He was wearing a large red necktie and glitter shades plucked from 1974. The scene had been described to me some 60 seconds earlier, and 60 seconds later I found myself attempting an explanation, but neither did it justice, nor did this. At some point in the planning or execution of the show I envisioned drug or alcohol use. A medley would be no less surprising.
Many of the other performers were equally entertaining in different, more sober ways, but few surpassed the funk of the Elton John buccaneer.
I was also pleased to see El Guapo's, Dwelling Spaces, Tsunami Sushi and the other businesses located around the festival benefiting from increased traffic and/or bathroom pit stops. I hope for those who had never been exposed, you will now appreciate what the businesses offer beyond the toilets. I also saw signs of future development in the form of loft apartments, restaurants, etc. in the area, which is a breath of fresh air.
I spent the majority of the weekend assisting my girlfriend and our friend with their booths. I'm proud of the work they do. They chose to participate in the Blue Dome Festival, as opposed to MayFest, because it is more inviting to local artists.
Being on alert, I watched the shoppers' faces light up as they entered their booth and the surrounding booths.
"Are you from Tulsa?" they'd ask.
As the conversation unfolded between vendors and patrons, I could feel relationships beginning to form. I heard the pride in the customers' voices, "There are so many great things made here. That's awesome (cool was also used)!"
I saw people wearing shirts expressing their love for their city, their home. We, as a city, want to adorn shirts outlining our affection. We want art in our living rooms by talented artists we know. We want to root for our city, but before we can adorn the shirts, hang the art and cheer from pubs, we first must have the shirts, art and pubs.
We must have a reason to be proud beyond a point on a map. MayFest, Blue Dome, locally made goods and the people who make all of that possible are a great start, but if we want to continue this trend we must participate. Current participants include vendors, planners and attendees.
Hopefully next year all of you who were watching golf or shopping for ersatz orchids during MayFest and Blue Dome will instead be forming bonds, growing the city and being offered mugs and mugs of free beer.
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