Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Norman Music Festival 2011 changes dates

Leon Russell performs at the 2010 Norman Music Festival. (Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Archives)
From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Norman Music Festival 2011 hopes to another weekend
The fourth annual event shifts to April 28-30 to avoid conflicting with Easter weekend.
The 2011 Norman Music Festival is doing the bunny hop, jumping back a weekend to accommodate the Easter holiday weekend
Norman Music Festival 4 is now set for April 28-30, a week later than the original dates organizers recently announced.
Although it won’t be on its usual weekend, plans are still in place to expand the free event from two to three days, with the festivities spanning Thursday through Saturday. The first two days will take place primarily inside various Norman venues.
For the 2011 NMF, Saturday will be the big day, when outdoor stages go up in downtown Norman. Although next year’s festival won’t extend through Sunday, concerns were raised that the Easter weekend dates would conflict with Good Friday church services and Easter egg hunts, said 2011 NMF chairman Robert Ruiz.
“Because it (the main day) was going to be on a Saturday this year, we didn’t think it was going to be that much of an issue being on the same weekend as Easter,” Ruiz said. “But we did get quite a bit of feedback after we made the announcement public that there were some worries that it might interfere with some other activities and services and things like that. So we went ahead and made the change to move it to the following weekend.”
Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal applauded the decision to shift the NMF dates.
“I think there were a number of people who were concerned about it coinciding with Easter holiday weekend, and I think appropriately the Norman Music Festival took that under advisement and decided a change was probably a good thing,” she said. “The Norman Music Festival depends on using parking facilities many of which are under the control of churches in the area, so having access to adequate parking was certainly an issue.”
Moving the festival to the final weekend in April will allow it to coincide with other big events in Norman, including the Lion’s Carnival, ‘89er Day and, for the first time, the May Fair Arts Festival.
“Last year, we were in a situation where we were able to coordinate with the Lion’s Carnival and with ‘89er Day to have those three events on the same weekend. And that was a pretty nice experience. We definitely loved having the carnival right there,” Ruiz said. “Along with our kids’ stage and our arts market … it’s just one more thing for families to do there. We have an extremely diverse crowd, so there’s something for everybody.”
Also, he said the layout of the outdoor stages will be altered to allow the April 30 ‘89er Day Parade route to march right through the festival grounds. The main stage will be moved from its Main Street spot in front of the Sooner Theatre to the corner of Porter and Main.
“We think it has great impact for the community to have all those events on the same weekend for everyone to enjoy,” said Charles Hollingsworth, co-chairman of the Norman ‘89er Day Parade.
Although NMF4 now will again overlap with Oklahoma City’s downtown Festival of the Arts, Ruiz said he doesn’t expect that to significantly affect attendance for either event.
“It’s great to be at a point now where we’re no longer where we were a decade back when it was ‘OK, what’s the one art thing happening this month?’ Now there are several arts things going on in one weekend that people have to choose; it’s kind of a good thing to be in that situation,” he said.
“It will make Norman a real nice destination for that weekend with tons of things going on. … We’ll be very happy if we can make an event that will be as big as a (University of Oklahoma football) game day.”
Organizers haven’t decided what to do with the NMF dates beyond 2011.
“I think we’ll be open to looking at our dates. We’d probably like to keep our traditional date, but if this works in such a great way for the community and people feel like it’s a great way to approach these events, I think we’ll be open to considering that,” Ruiz said. “I think part of it is just seeing how it will turn out this year.”
The Norman Music Festival will again take place on the 100, 200 and 300 blocks of E Main Street downtown, east of the railroad tracks in the arts district. As in past years, the event will be free and open to everyone.
The search for nationally known headliners for NMF4 is under way. Past headliners have included Dirty Projectors, Leon Russell, Electric Six, The Sword, Of Montreal, Polyphonic Spree and Chainsaw Kittens.
Organizers hope to feature as many as 200 acts next year, with the roster made up primarily of local, state and regional performers. The open call for bands and solo artists started last week. For more information, go to

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