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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Putnam City North High School's band marching in the opening parade for Festival of the Arts, 1979
(2012.201.B1034.1034, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


The Festival of the Arts, an Oklahoma City tradition, annually hosts approximately 750,000 visitors. From beginnings in 1967 in downtown Civic Park, by the dawn of the twenty-first century the festival was held at Festival Plaza and the Myriad Gardens. The mission is to provide education and access to the arts, including paintings, sculpture, and pottery, in a fun setting. The first chair, Marion DeVore, recalled that planning the event took only three weeks, and it was carried out on a budget of only fifteen thousand dollars.

That first festival, held on April 5, 1967, highlighted forty-three artists and offered homemade tuna sandwiches to visitors. By 1989 it expanded and starred as the centerpiece of the city's centennial celebration. The city did not hold the festival in 1995, due to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, but the event returned the following year with even greater success. The planners' biggest worry has been the unpredictable Oklahoma weather for this popular spring gathering.

Richenda Davis Bates


Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 5 April 1967.

Crystal Radcliff, "Festival of the Arts Celebrates Successful History," Vertical File, Arts Council of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Richenda Davis Bates, “Festival of the Arts,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=FE016.

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