Main Street looks to hol­i­day en­ter­tain­ment

El Dorado News-Times - - Local - By Tia Lyons Staff Writer

With Mu­sicFest XXX and the grand open­ing of the Mur­phy Arts District now in the rearview mir­ror, Main Street El Do­rado is look­ing ahead to the hol­i­days.

First, Main Street and its Mu­sicFest com­mit­tee will hold a wrap-up meet­ing to­day to re­view

Mu­sicFest, which was held in late Septem­ber/ early Oc­to­ber in con­junc­tion with the open­ing of MAD.

While some is­sues and kinks arose, both events were deemed a suc­cess. Main Street board mem­bers said.

“We’ll hear, good and bad, how things went,” Beth Brum­ley, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Main Street, said in ref­er­ence to the wrap-up meet­ing.

Paul Choate, pres­i­dent of the MSE board, said Tues­day that the pearl an­niver­sary of Mu­sicFest was a new ex­pe­ri­ence and a dif­fer­ent for­mat for Main Street.

“All things be­ing equal, our board is happy. We’re all very pleased. Ninety-eight per­cent of the feed­back we re­ceived has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive,” Choate said.

“There are def­i­nitely some in­ter­nal kinks we need to work out, and we will mov­ing for­ward,” he said.

Choate said Main Street ex­pects to see a profit from Mu­sicFest, which was ex­tended to a third day and in­cluded more fam­ily-friendly amuse­ments and at­trac­tions.

To cel­e­brate its grand open­ing, MAD booked tal­ent for five days of con­certs.

The mu­si­cal acts dou­bled as the head­lin­ers for Mu­sicFest, al­low­ing Main Street to fo­cus on fill­ing side stages with lo­cal and re­gional acts and beef­ing up other at­trac­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties be­tween Sept. 29

and Oct. 1.

Vis­i­tors from Louisiana, Texas, Mis­sis­sippi, the Mid­west, New Eng­land, Aus­tralia, Eng­land and other parts of U.S. and world streamed into town from Sept. 27 un­til Oct. 1, Main Street board mem­bers said.

A con­tes­tant from Iowa com­peted in the Mu­sicFest-Mac’s Fresh Mar­ket Steak Cookoff.

Sarah Walls, Main Street board sec­re­tary, said 30 teams regis­tered for the new Mu­sicFest fea­ture, and 29 teams par­tic­i­pated.

Choate and Main Street board mem­bers Bruce But­ter­field and Pamela Grif­fin said vis­i­tors from New York state, Aus­tralia and Eng­land said they came to El Do­rado to see coun­try mu­sic su­per­star Brad Pais­ley in con­cert.

The $35 ticket prices for the Pais­ley show placed El Do­rado on their radar, board mem­bers said.

Board mem­bers also said pop­u­lar rock group Train a large con­tin­gent of vis­i­tors from Texas, Choate and But­ter­field said.

“It just shows who you book tal­ent-wise makes a dif­fer­ence. too, be­cause peo­ple fol­low bands,” said Grif­fin, who is also trea­surer and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of MAD.

Added Choate, “I’m see­ing it as an ex­pe­ri­ence on your side to see who you can mar­ket in this re­gion.”

Choate said that down­town re­tail shops and restau­rants ben­e­fit­ted from the crowds, par­tic­u­larly those who re­mained open later and were pre­pared for the in­flux of peo­ple.

Restau­rants through­out the rest of the city also saw throngs of vis­i­tors, board mem­bers said.

Holly Wo­mack, Main Street board mem­ber and ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant, ex­plained that Main Street did not in­ten­tion­ally re­duce the num­ber of food ven­dors that nor­mally set up for Mu­sicFest each year.

For the first time in 30 years, Main Street was not closed for Mu­sicFest, and Wo­mack said that leav­ing the street open took up space and knocked out util­i­ties usage that would have nor­mally could have been used by about eight ven­dors.

Choate said the sit­u­a­tion worked out for down­town restau­rants.

He and Brum­ley said there have been on­go­ing dis­cus­sions with the Down­town Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion to pick one night a month for down­town busi­nesses to stay open later.

Grif­fin said MAD has plans for Thurs­day Night Live, live mu­sic shows with a free cover charge from 9 p.m. un­til mid­night.

She said down­town shops could pos­si­bly con­sider stay­ing open later dur­ing those nights.

Hol­i­day sea­son

Main Street is set­ting its sights on the hol­i­day sea­son in El Do­rado.

The an­nual Down­town Hol­i­day Light­ing Cer­e­mony is set for 5 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Union Square District.

The event will in­clude free rides on a horse and car­riage and the PJ’s Cof­fee Ex­press Hol­i­day Train.

The free rides will con­tinue through Nov. 19, the day of the Down­town Open House, dur­ing which shop­pers may see what down­town busi­nesses have to of­fer.

The Open House will be held from 1 un­til 4 p.m. Main Street will pro­vide free hot dogs and drinks. Santa will also be down­town then.

Main Street and the DBA will rec­og­nize Small Busi­ness Satur­day on Nov. 25.

Brum­ley said the an­nual event, which en­cour­ages cit­i­zens to sup­port small busi­nesses in their com­mu­ni­ties, will be held in part­ner­ship with Amer­i­can Ex­press.

Lo­cal spon­sors are also as­sist­ing with other down­town hol­i­day ac­tiv­i­ties, Brum­ley said.

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