The Blue Dome Arts Festival is an annual community event that focuses on promoting local artists, handcrafters and performers and has become a spring tradition for families across our great state. What began in 2004 as a small gathering to showcase a handful of local artists has grown to become the regional event it is today, attracting over 500,000 guests just last year. Even with this incredible growth, our focus has never strayed from being loyal to who we are… a LOCAL festival promoting LOCAL talent. Entering our 15th year, we will proudly welcome nearly 300 Oklahoma artists, 25 performers and 20 mobile chefs to showcase their talents during this three day family-friendly celebration in downtown Tulsa’s historic Blue Dome District.
The Blue Dome Arts Festival began as a simple idea that started in artist Virginia Harrison’s backyard with a handful of local artists who wanted a chance to showcase their work. Michael Sager, the landlord of many Blue Dome buildings at that time, offered up the streets of the Blue Dome District and a festival was born. Catering to local artists who painted or handcrafted their own art, the Blue Dome Arts Festival had a very grassroots feel to it which offered something new and fresh to both the artists and their guests. After 10 years of growth, the festival changed hands when Michael Sager sold the iconic Blue Dome Building at 2nd and Elgin to Chris and Jo Armstrong, owners of Arnie’s Bar. The Armstrong’s were no strangers to throwing festivals as they have been hosting the huge St. Patrick’s Day party in downtown for over 10 years and had also created Eat Street Tulsa, the largest food truck festival in the state, which occurs every fall. After running the Blue Dome Arts Festival for 10 amazing years, Sager felt that it was time to “pass the torch,” and the Armstrong’s were very excited and honored to have been the chosen couple for this opportunity to run a festival that they had always appreciated and enjoyed themselves.
Trying to make your mark on a festival that you already love is difficult, so the changes they made were ones that represented who they were as individuals. As parents of young twin boys, they looked to increase kids activities and make sure that the festival was incredibly family friendly. Most recently, they added a PetZone that even includes the 4-legged family members. As huge supporters of all things local, they built up a big food truck food court which provides festival guests with the very best eats all while supporting small, local business on wheels. Beyond that, they loved the festival and didn’t want to make a lot of changes to an event that they had always enjoyed themselves. They focused on the roots of the festival, making certain that all art must be local and handcrafted. After all, it’s an arts festival… not a flea market. They wanted to make sure everyone in Tulsa knew that when you come to Blue Dome Arts Festival, you should feel good about any purchase you make since every penny of every dollar you spend stays in our wonderful state. For Blue Dome, it’s all about supporting local art, local talent, local fun!
There are so many reasons to come! What’s yours???
Many come for the art… eager to see what’s new and different, but find themselves impressed time after time with the quality of the work and talent surrounding them. Local art will include paintings, jewelry, clothing, pottery, photography, home decor, woodcraft and so much more which are all proudly produced by hand and are original works of art. With a record-setting number of entries this year, we were forced to turn away many applicants, but this only ensures that the local art will be the best it’s ever been! With local art this impressive, you can feel great pride in finding unique pieces that you love, all while helping to support people in our own community… our neighbors, our friends, our crafters, our people. It’s a win-win.
Many come for the music… ready to hear the next ‘big thing’ or check out an old favorite. Either way, you’re sure to be pleased. Festival guests will hear everything from country to rock, from folk to hip hop, singer-songwriter and so much more. Kids get their chance to rock out at a concert geared just for them with Spaghetti Eddie on Saturday (4:30 pm) and Sugar Free All-Stars on Sunday (1:00 pm). Without a doubt, our stage will host more talent and variety than ever before and we’re beyond excited to welcome them all!
Many come for the food… a chance to check out Tulsa’s best mobile cuisine all in one spot! With 22 food trucks in 3 locations, you’re sure to find an answer to your cravings wherever you go. Anyone who’s tried Tulsa’s amazing food trucks knows what we’re talking about! For those who haven’t yet, this is your chance. There will be food trucks located at the Stage Food Court, the Chill & Grill Food Court and in the Family Zone. Every single food vendor is a local business who offers up something unique and delicious for you to enjoy!
Many come for the activities… so much fun at all of the specialty zones at Blue Dome Arts Festival! Bringing the kiddos? Check out the Family Zone where you can relax a little and let your kids play and create art of their own, or (better yet!) join them! Here, you can create your own art, work on make-and-take projects, add to collaborative art projects, let the kids (sorry parents… this one’s for kids only) play on the inflatable slides and obstacle course, make your mark as a family on our Blue Dome Handprint Wall, take a family photo to mark this memory and so much more! Bringing the pup? Check out the PetZone where your pooch can relax in the backyard we create in the middle of the street while you check out all of the amazing local pet related businesses that you either already love or have yet to discover. Looking for a place to chill? Check out the Chill & Grill zone where you’ll find additional food trucks and a place to sit in the shade under misters and play backyard games in a calm and relaxing environment.
Whatever it is that you’re looking for, we feel that you’re sure to find it! And the best part is that admission is always FREE! Enjoy it all at no charge, or take home some amazing LOCAL art or eat a delicious meal from a LOCAL food truck and feel amazing about supporting them! We look forward to seeing you on May 18th – 20th in the streets of the Blue Dome District for our 15th Annual Blue Dome Arts Festival!