“While developing the concept for the inaugural OK PLAY! Children's Expo, the goal was to provide fun and affordable family entertainment while connecting local community organizations with the next generation of Tulsans. You never quite know what to expect with a first-time event, but we received a great response from the public and had more than 7,400 visitors this year!”
- Jeff Nickler, Director of Booking and Special Events
After wrapping up the first annual OK PLAY! Children's Expo on June 18 and 19, SMG Tulsa is already making plans for the event's expansion in 2012. This year, the expo welcomed more than 7,400 people to the newly renovated Tulsa Convention Center for the city's largest indoor play-date. Kids of all ages were invited to enjoy free games, live entertainment on two performance stages, interactive exhibits, dozens of vendors selling quality children's products/services, kid-friendly concessions, and the SUPERPLAY Inflatable Zone which featured 10 giant inflatable elements. On top of all that excitement, admission for the event was FREE!
The expo was open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 18 and 19 and filled the 102,600 square foot exhibit hall space at the Tulsa Convention Center.
“We recognized a need in the regional area for an event that was geared toward children and that provided all the resources a parent would need to keep their kids active and learning throughout the summer,” Nickler said.
Learning centers, daycares, summer camps and children's service representatives were all on site to speak with parents about keeping their children involved during the summer and assisting families throughout the school year. Kids also had the opportunity to visit with some of their favorite cartoon characters, get their faces painted or watch balloon animals come to life.
The expo featured five different zones for kids to visit and explore. As presenting sponsor for the event, St. John was the cornerstone for the Main Street Tulsa Zone and offered free teddy bear clinics for children and their cuddly friends. Kids were encouraged to bring their teddy bears for an educational activity with the St. John staff that focused on family wellness and first aid. ONEOK continued its support of SMG Tulsa's special events as the sponsor of the main stage, which featured several groups from the Tulsa PAC's SummerStage program. TulsaKids Magazine sponsored another stage area which played host to magicians, dance groups and the motivational J2 Crew for sing-a-longs and dance parties. The Sports and Fitness Zone, sponsored by Delta Dental of Oklahoma and the Delta Dental of Oklahoma Oral Health Foundation, featured exhibits from Tulsa's favorite sports teams, including the Tulsa Oilers slap-shot game where kids were taught how to shoot a hockey puck and visits with Volt, the Tulsa Shock mascot. A 30-foot climbing wall stood as the central element of the sports zone and stayed busy each day as children and parents tested their rock-climbing skills. As the Art Zone sponsor, Arby's hosted a creative area for children to develop their artistic skills and welcomed hands-on painting and craft activities from Purple Glaze and other local arts organizations. The Science and Nutrition Zone, sponsored by Whole Foods, featured the Rooty Toot Ranch Petting Zoo and the informative Farm to You exhibit which follows food from the farm to the market and through the body to explore the relationships between agriculture, food and health.
Much of the success of OK PLAY! can be attributed to the community organizations and vendors who came on board as participants in 2011 and who helped spread the word throughout the local area. Event coordinators are already looking to make enhancements to the event in 2012 and will soon be posting the 2012 vendor applications on the OK PLAY! Children's Expo website.
Media partners for OK PLAY! included Cox radio stations – Mix 96, K95.5 and Star 103.3, Urban Tulsa Weekly, TulsaKids Magazine, La Semana del Sur, Hispano de Tulsa and News Channel 8. Event partners included the J2 Crew, SUPERPLAY Inflatables, BAM Entertainment, and Pixie Productions.
To learn more about the event or to become a vendor in 2012, visit www.okplayexpo.com, become a fan of the event on Facebook or call 918-894-4267.