The annual Women’s Fair at Century II — an event filled with pretty purses, racks of dresses and cooking demonstrations — is most definitely targeted at women.
Men, though, are most definitely allowed — and even encouraged — to attend, said Chris Veazey Brown, the co-founder of the popular 15-year-old event that’s expected to draw 16,000 people over its three-day run.
But very few do.
Most males in attendance have a responsibility to be there, Brown said. They’re working at vendor booths selling dip mixes, cleaning rings, demonstrating knives, pushing Oklahoma tourism.
Some, like the young men manning the Walgreen’s booth, have the unenviable job of refilling tubs of free samples being snatched up by attendees — lotion, bandages, tubes of “personal lubricant.”
Others, like local wine expert and radio personality Guy Bower, are leading mini-seminars aimed at women. In Bower’s case, it was a wine tasting, and he was able to wear a sparkly purple boa and make giggly jokes about the “Menage a Trois” wine label he was holding while still holding securely on to his man card.
But many brave male souls are just there out of loyalty — hanging out with their wives or keeping their girlfriends company.
Wayne Socha and his son, Casey, were among the male attendees on Saturday morning. They lingered near the Eric Fisher Salon booth, patiently waiting as Wayne’s wife, Marie, had her makeup done.
The men come every year, they say, mainly because it makes Marie happy.
But their motives are not completely innocent.
“I’m just here for the candy,” said Casey, who was preparing to help himself to the many peppermints and chocolate bites vendors were passing out at their booths to lure shoppers.
Nearby, Luke Reindl was the only person stopped at a booth where a camouflage-painted Polaris Ranger was being raffled. He filled out a chance card to pass the time while his girlfriend worked selling dresses at a nearby booth.
In his estimation, the Women’s Fair was a good place to be a man, he said. He’d already taken advantage of a free back massage and sampled several tasty snacks.
“Football is over, so what else is there to do?” he said with a laugh.
Brown said that of the thousands of attendees, “very few are men,” but those who do attend often pick up good gifts for the women in their lives -- and a few tips on understanding them.
“My husband loves to come,” she said. “He spends a bundle. I have to watch him.”
Plus, she said, there are far, far worse places to be a man than at the Women’s Fair.
“It’s much better than sitting in a mall on a bench outside a store.”