Of the neighborhood festivals that dot the map and compete along the calendar, Plaza Fest anchored the fall with a charming take on the usual. The normal format of local beer-local food-art-music-no parking worked great, but Plaza Fest elevated that by introducing the Plaza Alley Walls mural project. Artists spent the day painting the wall, breathing life (and paint dust) into an alley that most people wouldn’t have noticed. The smell of spray paint lingered in the air, reminding us of the hard work that had transpired during the day. As we walked through the alley at night sipping beer and smelling paint, the sound of a three-piece entertaining the crowd wooed us toward the stage. Homeless men sat on the bus bench, an elderly woman danced ragtime, a young family corralled a puppy; all interacted in the same space, everyone a part of this neighborhood. The moment served as a microcosm to the real progress happening in the city. The music venues, bars, and art galleries will continue to improve in OKC, but the real measure of our growth is local communities drawing together and learning to live next to each other. Which, of course, is what Oklahomans are best at. Plaza Fest serves as a reminder that Oklahoma City is more poised for progress than we thought.
For more on the Plaza District mural project, go here.