Like any great production or event, festivals require meticulous planning. Event organizers are responsible for bringing together various vendors, planning activities and cultivating unique experiences that will leave visitors excited to return the next year. 

This spring, Oklahoma’s annual festivals are expected to draw upwards of 400,000 people. Learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at some of the state’s longest-running and most popular events. 

Tulsa Mayfest

May 10-12 | Downtown Tulsa 

Before its 50th annual celebration in 2023, Tulsa Mayfest’s future was uncertain. Ahha Tulsa – an arts organization which hosted the event at the time – shuttered suddenly. 

Recognizing the importance of the festival, leaders at the University of Tulsa stepped up to the plate. And in Feb. 2023, the university officially acquired Tulsa Mayfest, along with the Hardesty Arts Center. 

Dedicated to promoting the arts and humanities, TU has been working diligently to bring together a diversity of lineup of music, along with 140 visual artists and 50 performing artists for Mayfest this spring. Planning for the festival is a 12-month process, says Tricia Milford-Hoyt, vice president of marketing and communications at TU. 

Along with an array of talented art vendors, Mayfest offers food, music and activities for kids. Photos courtesy the University of Tulsa/Tulsa Mayfest

“This not-for-profit event requires thousands of volunteer hours and sponsor dollars to come together,” she says. 

The festival is estimated to draw more than 300,000 people. A few of this year’s musical performers include Samantha Crain, Paw Paw Rod, and Willie Jones, who collaborated with Beyoncé on her album Cowboy Carter

Milfort-Hoyt shares that Mayfest will provide a multifaceted family space called Kids World in 101 Archer (previously the Ahha space) for the first time. Presented by WeStreet Credit Union, the area will feature hands-on activities and face painting for families to enjoy. 

For a complete lineup of musical performances and activities, check out

Once an event to help farmers get rid of excess livestock, the Rooster Days festival now offers a parade, 5K, food and fun. Photo courtesy the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce

Rooster Days Festival

May 16–19 | Central Park, Broken Arrow

The Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce has worked almost year-round to bring one of the state’s oldest festivals, the 93rd annual Rooster Days Festival, to life. 

“It is such a large festival, and there’s so many pieces to the puzzle. We start planning way ahead to ensure that we can provide the best festival for the community as possible,” says Lindsay Cunningham, marketing and communications director at the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce.

The Rooster Days Festival was formed by a local agricultural high school instructor in 1931. His idea was to help farmers get rid of their excess roosters, boosting the production of unfertilized eggs. 

The festival has since evolved to include a 5K run, a Rooster Day Parade, live musical performances and more. Although roosters are no longer sold at the festival, visitors can say hello to the festival’s fowl mascot, Rosco.  

This year, the festival will feature over 120 different food, marketplace and drink vendors. Cunningham shares that it will also offer an expanded beer garden and carnival. 

The Casey West Band and Braden Jamison & the Neon Strangers are just a couple of the musical acts scheduled to take the stage. 

Creating a lineup of bands requires expert coordination, Cunningham says. 

“It’s not as easy to book a band as some people may think,” she says. 

Organizers expect a turnout of about 35,000 people. To pull off an event of this scale, the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce relies on corporate sponsorships and the generosity of volunteers.

“We can’t do it alone,” says Cunningham.

To learn more about festival hours, parking and entertainment, visit

Chuck Wagon Festival

Hosted at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Chuck Wagon Festival presents family-friendly fun and a panoply of great food. Photo courtesy the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

May 25–26 | National Cowboy and
Western Heritage Museum, OKC 

In the Old West, chuck wagon cooks were considered some of the most important people in cattle drives. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City pays homage to this part of history through its Chuck Wagon Festival. Going on its 33rd year, the festival is one of the biggest events that the museum organizes. 

The most important element is, without a doubt, the food. This year, the festival will include seven chuck wagons from three different states. Cooks will prepare popular cowboy-inspired dishes, like stew, cornbread and cobbler. 

The festival also celebrates Native American cuisine, featuring food from Wolf’s Plate Catering, established by Pawnee professional chef Arthur “Sonny” Fields. Fields has been a long-time participant of the festival, serving up traditional dishes like fry bread and grape dumplings. 

In addition to the fare, the Chuck Wagon Festival includes live music, Western reenactments, butter-making, bandana decorating and more. To snag tickets for the family-friendly event, go to

Paseo Arts Festival

May 25-27 | Paseo Arts District, OKC

Amanda Bleakley, executive director of the Paseo Arts Association, describes the Paseo Arts District as one of Oklahoma City’s hidden gems. 

“I still meet people on a regular basis who never knew it was here,” she says.

Nestled among residences, the district comes alive with creations from 90 juried artists, live music and food vendors in May. The festival is the Paseo Arts Association’s biggest annual fundraiser, drawing around 20,000 daily visitors. 

Organizers began planning in October 2023. Part of the process includes narrowing down the pool of artist applicants. 

“The quality of art goes up and up, and the applications increase every year,” says Bleakley. “We had 260 applications this year and about 85 open slots.” 

The Paseo Arts Festival features over 50 live musical performances, including Edgar Cruz & the Brave Amigos, Uncle Zep, and Sophia Massad. 

Visitors will get the chance to check out the district’s new $4 million streetscape as well. New sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping have improved the appearance and accessibility of the area. Bleakley says that there are many ways that people can show their support for the festival, which is going on its 47th year. Every year, the Paseo Arts Association sells T-shirts, posters and other merchandise to raise funds for its programming.

The organization also needs more than 400 volunteers to help staff the festival. 

“This event couldn’t run without volunteers,” says Bleakley. “We really invite the community to be a part of this with us.” 

To learn more, go to

Celebrating the magic of the Paseo Arts District, the Paseo Arts Festival presents a juried art show, hosting artists from around the country. Photos courtesy Paseo Arts Association 
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