The City of Norman and the downtown business community are gearing up for the return of the Norman Music Festival and Lions Club Carnival, which are expected to draw 100,000 people to the area this weekend.
Norman Music Festival was founded in 2008 as a free one-day music festival, but has grown into a three-day affair with a multi-million dollar impact on the city. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, NMF returns on Thursday, April 28 and will continue until Saturday, April 30.
The festival is estimated to have an economic activity impact of $4 million on Norman.
Additionally, the Norman Lions Club has brought their family carnival back to its normal dates alongside NMF this weekend. The annual carnival features a Ferris wheel, games for all ages, a food court and other activities. Colorful wristbands can be purchased for $30 and allow unlimited rides for the day.
This is what people planning to head downtown for events this weekend need to know about driving and parking:
- The carnival will be set up on James Garner Blvd., near The Well. The 100 block south of Main Street at Eufaula Street will close from 7 a.m. Wednesday to hold the carnival. The North 100 block will close at noon Friday for Norman Music Festival.
- Crawford Avenue, from Main Street to Gray Street, will close from 6 p.m. Thursday. The public parking lot on Gray Street, between Peters and Crawford avenues, will close at 8 a.m. Friday. Forty parking spaces will be reserved for parking permit holders until 6 p.m.
- Blocks 100 West, 100 East, 200 East and 300 East of Main Street will close at noon Friday. The north and south 100 blocks of Jones Avenue will close Friday at noon. The north and south 100 blocks of Peters Avenue will close at noon Friday. All streets will open at 5 a.m. Sunday, except for the 100 south block of James Garner Boulevard, which will reopen at 5 p.m.
Navigating in NMF
Over 300 bands are expected at this year’s festival, including headliners Babeheaven, DIIV, Husbands, The Drums, Wet, … And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Mothica, Fat Tony and Joy Again.
- Four outdoor stages will be spread across the Walker Arts District. The Winston West stage is planned for Main Street, just west of the train tracks.
- The Norman Arts Gray Street stage will be between the driveway and Gray Street, east of Peters Avenue. Also near the alley, on Gray Street, the Toucan Alley Stage will be east of Crawford Avenue.
- Fowler Auto’s main stage will be located at the corner of Main Street and Porter Avenue.
- Bands will play indoor venues on Main Street and Gray Street including The Brewhouse, Sooner Theatre, Sergio’s, Michelangelo’s, Bison Witches, Opolis, Red Brick Bar, Blue Bonnett Bar and Resonator.
NMF executive director Shari Jackson said downtown parking will be limited and many festival attendees will opt for carpool apps for transport to and from the event. Jackson urged mindfulness and attention to parking signs to avoid being towed.
Jackson said Comanche Street would be a suitable drop-off and pick-up location, just south of Main Street, where much of the festival will take place.
The timely implementation of Carnival and the NMF will depend on street closures at noon Friday, with the cooperation of downtown business customers, Jackson said.
“We’ll put up signs to remind people, and we’ll take a little stroll through the shops on Friday morning shouting to everyone at the neighborhood jam, ‘please get your cars off the street before noon'” , Jackson said. “We don’t want to tow anyone, but to get all the business going on Friday night, we need to get those stages up as soon as possible, and we can’t do that with cars on the street.”
Nancy Coggins, manager of the Sooner Theater, 101 E. Main St., said they have already begun the installation process.
“We’re breaking down our sets, costumes and all the props that we used in our showcase, which is our annual recital that we just had last weekend,” Coggins said. “It involves taking things apart, but luckily the seats, stage and lights are [always] here.”
Coggins said they love hosting festivals like NMF and look forward to enjoying the atmosphere it provides when they return.
More information about NMF, including a map of events, can be found at www.normandmusicfestival.com
Lions Club Carnival Returns to Downtown
Lions Club Carnival is returning to downtown Norman alongside NMF following a solo event in 2021 at the Sooner Mall due to COVID-19.
Proceeds from the carnival help the club obtain glasses and eye care for people in need, as well as other humanitarian efforts for blind people.
Wristbands, which can be purchased daily for $30, allow unlimited rides on the Ferris wheel and other rides. A different wristband is required each day of the carnival.
Club member Bill Purcell said Carnival and NMF had a strong synergy and hosted them side by side.
Norman Lions Club president Jordan Cramer said the carnival draws a large crowd and this year they are planning another big turnout due to pent-up demand from NMF’s absence for the past two years.
This year, the club has partnered with Habitat for Humanity and will have a booth where people can donate and learn about their efforts, including plans for a custom wooden eyeglass receptacle.
Festival goers are encouraged to bring cash to stock up on fair trade food, rides and support their cause.
Weekend weather forecast
Temperatures in the upper 70s to mid-80s are expected Thursday through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
A low risk of storms is possible Thursday evening, but the marginal risk of severe storms is west of Cleveland County. Thursday’s high is 79 degrees, with wind gusts of up to 30 mph.
The forecast for Friday is 87 degrees. Strong afternoon winds are expected to decrease to less than 20 mph by nightfall, according to the service. Severe afternoon storms are possible in Cleveland County.
Generally clear skies are expected in central Oklahoma on Saturday, with highs of 80 degrees and winds of 12 mph.