Art And Entertainment

Festival of the Arts returning to downtown OKC this summer

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Still, Dolese said he hopes festivalgoers will be happy to find some of their familiar festival favorites — from Pottery Place and the Children’s Art Field to the Sculpture Park and the 144 artist tents — even in the summer. All accepted visual artists from the canceled 2020 festival have been invited to participate in this year’s event.

“I think that it’s appropriate for us to have a Festival of the Arts, and it’s unfortunate that we have to move it. But it’s also pretty fortunate that we get to have it at all,” Dolese said.

Sign of normalcy

Last year marked just the second time the Festival of Arts has been canceled in its half-century history: The other was in 1995 when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred just days before the event was set to begin.

“Oklahoma City without the Festival of the Arts doesn’t feel like Oklahoma City — and that’s among the many reasons that this last year has felt like a lost year for many of us. … The Festival of the Arts is a major cultural event in our city, and its return will certainly, I think, bring with it a return to normalcy in our community that is very welcome and very much missed,” OKC Mayor David Holt said.

“I trust the Oklahoma City-County Health Department on these things, and I know they’ve been in close contact with the Festival of the Arts and that they’re pleased with the plan. It sounds like it will work, and of course, it will be exciting to be able to welcome the Festival of the Arts back, albeit in a slightly modified form.”

With the festival dates six months away and vaccine distribution under way, Holt said he is confident that the outdoor event will be able to proceed safely.

“It’s hard to say that today: I still have over 600 people in the hospital right now for COVID-19. … We still have some hard work to do. We’ve got to get these vaccines out; we’ve got to continue to use precautions in the meantime,” Holt told The Oklahoman. “Nobody’s partying today, but you can imagine, realistically, a world where things have returned to some semblance of normalcy, and I think for sure, by the second half of 2021, that’s a realistic hope.”