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Columbus kicks into high gear prepping for festival

 

Katherine Phillips, assistant with the Main Street office in Columbus, works through a list of vendors who will be attending Market Street Festival.

Katherine Phillips, assistant with the Main Street office in Columbus, works through a list of vendors who will be attending Market Street Festival. Photo by: Kelly Tippett  Buy this photo.

 

Allen Baswell

 

COLUMBUS -- Plans for Columbus'' 15th annual Market Street Festival are coming together as musical acts have been scheduled, along with setting up sites for arts and crafts and food vendors. 

 

The event is scheduled for the weekend of May 7-8.  

 

"We have 20 musical acts lined up and 33 spaces in the food court for food vendors have been set up, with 31 vendors already signed up," said Main Street Columbus Director Amber Murphree-Brislin.  

 

Brislin added more than 150 arts and crafts vendors have registered, with more expected in the coming days. 

 

"We had over 200 arts and crafts vendors and food vendors last year, and we are hoping for more of the same this year," she said. 

 

Music, arts and crafts and food are just part of the weekend event. Brislin said a car show, a 5K run and activities for children are also a tradition of this event. 

 

"The musical entertainment is scheduled to start Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. The music acts will be on the main stage in front of The Commercial Dispatch and City Hall. Tickets are on sale for $10, and are available at the Main Street Columbus office," Brislin said. 

 

The arts and crafts and other events will be free and open to the public. 

 

Among the scheduled music acts for Friday include Come On Go With Us, Big Sam''s Funky Nation and Swing Shift. 

 

The 5K run will begin Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Riverwalk. The arts and crafts, food and children''s activities will begin at 9 a.m.., and continues until 5:30. 

 

Brislin said Saturday''s music will began at 10 a.m. and will continue until 11:30 p.m. Nathan Best and the New Hope High Jazz Band are just some of the music acts scheduled to perform Saturday. 

 

"There will also be pony rides, and giant inflatables for the kids, along with a rock climbing wall, and the Columbus Fire Department giving a demonstration with the water hose. The pony ride is the only activity where you will have to pay, and it will only be $2. All of the other activities, including the concerts, will be free," she said. 

 

Proceeds from drink sales, T-shirt sales and vendor and sponsor fees support the following year''s Market Street Festival, Brislin said. 

 

"This is also the biggest fundraiser for Main Street Columbus. It costs us around $100,000 a year to put this on, so we get help from the fees of our sponsors and vendors, as well as the T-shirt sales," she said. 

 

Money from Market Street Festival also goes to help fund downtown beautification projects as well as Christmas events, including the Christmas Parade. 

 

As for how much money the event brings to Columbus over the two-day period, Brislin said it is an undetermined amount. 

 

''It is several hundred of thousands of dollars. This is from vendors and out-of-town visitors staying at our hotels and motels, people going to restaurants for meals, buying gasoline and other items," she said. 

 

Brislin said she appreciates the support Market Street Festival has received from not just the sponsors and event goers, but from the city as well. 

 

"Not only from our government officials, but the police department, the fire department and our public works department are a big help, especially public works, who are out picking up trash and keeping the streets clean," she said. 

 

Brislin encourages everyone to check the Market Street Festival Web site at www.MarketStreetFestival.com to find out information about the times and places for the musical acts, as well as other festival activities. 

 

The Market Street Festival T-shirts and posters will be available in the coming days at the Main Street office.  

 

"The cost of the shirts to the general public are $15, and $10 for event sponsor," Brislin said. 

 

Brislin added that each year the festival''s average attendance is at least 40,000 people who come from not just Columbus, Lowndes County and surrounding communities, but also out-of-state, including Alabama and Tennessee. 

 

"Each year the festival continues to highlight Columbus, as well as our many local talents and community spirit," she said. 

 

The Market Street Festival has been named a Top 20 Tourist Attraction in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society for 11 consecutive years, Brislin said.

 

Allen Baswell is a former staff reporter for The Dispatch

 

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