Assistance League calls off May Fair 

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Ava Gibson works on a mask during the 2017 May Fair Arts Festival at Andrews Park. The long-running festival has been called off by the Assistance League of Norman.

The May Fair Arts Festival is no more.

On March 1, the Assistance League of Norman issued a press release confirming the termination of the long-running festival, citing declining attendance, fewer artist vendors and increased festival competition.

“After consulting our Advisory Council and leadership within the organization, it was with reluctance and heavy hearts that the Assistance League board of directors proposed to our membership to end May Fair,” said Assistance League President Stephanie Clinton.

“Assistance League Norman is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. We depend entirely on sponsorships, donations and grants to run the organization and provide essential needs to the community through our programs. Each year the need of those who could benefit from our programs becomes greater.”

In 2017-2018, Assistance League of Norman’s flagship program, Operation School Bell, served 1,935 school age children in Norman and Little Axe public schools. The league has stated its intention to remain focused on providing new clothes, shoes, backpack, hygiene products and books to students.

It will transition the traditional May Fair 5K into its own stand-alone fundraising event and rebrand it as Operation School Bell 5K. It will focus on family and student participation, health, and will be moved to mid April prior to the Oklahoma Memorial Marathon.

“Our goal is to clothe 500 more children this fiscal year although the need is even greater,” the Clinton said. “When considering our budget and the manpower it takes to make this program successful, we realized that our time and resources should be focused on the children who will benefit from Operation School Bell rather than May Fair.

"May Fair has been a wonderful tradition for Assistance League. However, because of the changing volunteer structure and the increased need to serve Operation School Bell kids, our membership has had to prioritize where we spend our time and resources.

“We're proud to have offered May Fair to the community for so many years and are excited about the transition to Operation School Bell 5K. The change is bittersweet but we're confident that we are making the best choice for our organization and those we serve."

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Mack Burke is an investigative reporter and award-winning feature writer and columnist for The Norman Transcript. An OU alumnus, he has lived in Norman since 2003.