• Kenton Tsoodle

One million expected at downtown spring events


April ushers in a special spring ritual for Oklahoma City, when more than a million people will attend the Festival of the Arts and the Memorial Marathon in downtown Oklahoma City.

If you lived in Oklahoma City in 1995, you understand the significance of the Memorial Marathon. The marathon event marks the history of how our city was forever changed on April 19 of that year, and honors the victims, survivors, rescuers and all who were affected. If you are one of the 25,000 participants planning to cross the finish line, you have probably been preparing for this race for months.

Just a few blocks away, in Bicentennial Park, you’ll find an event with a different vibe. The Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, April 19-24, is a feast for the senses, with 144 visual artists from across the country and almost 300 performing artists and entertainers. The event is also a gastronomical event with dozens of food vendors, offering everything from Strawberries Newport to roasted corn and barbecue and if you’re feeling adventurous, alligator on a stick. Nationally, the festival is considered one of the largest and most successful festivals in the country, bringing nearly 750,000 people downtown.

The Festival of the Arts is also a cultural asset for Oklahoma City with interesting art experiences that are free or low cost and accessible to all. This year, the festival includes the Youth Art Sale, a one-day event allowing Oklahoma’s emerging young artists the opportunity to display and sell their artwork. Admire works from talented artists age 8-18, displayed on the east lawn of City Hall on Saturday, April 23, from 11a.m.-5 p.m.

Both of these events have significant historic and cultural meaning for our city. They are also important to our economy. Visitors will stay in hotels, purchase food and souvenirs and visit other destinations. The Festival of the Arts has an annual economic impact of more than $28 million, while the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon contributes over $6 million.

These two events focus on very different aspects of our city, from arts and entertainment to athleticism and the Oklahoma Standard, but they both showcase what is good about our city. They attract people who want to connect with our history and experience what makes Oklahoma City unique.

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