August 29, 2014 10:11:36 AM
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership's fall event series, New South Weekends, begins with the Downtown Block Party from 6-8 p.m. today and Sunday morning's Brunch and Browse Main Street shopping event.
The seven-weekend series provides events that bookend each Mississippi State University home football game and strives to showcase the best of Starkville in hopes that visitors will plan additional trips to the town, thereby helping spur retail sales and 2 percent food and beverage tax returns.
The Brunch and Browse series, the stalwart of this year's schedule of six of seven Sundays, is in its third year of operations, GSDP Special Events Coordinator Jennifer Prather said, and combines the best of Starkville's Main Street experiences: dining and shopping.
In previous years, many downtown businesses did not open their doors on Sundays, thereby missing many potential shoppers as they spent their last morning in Starkville. By capitalizing on Main Street's blossoming brunch scene, the Partnership was able to convince numerous retailers that an additional day of operation means additional sales.
"Visitors typically go downtown on Sundays to eat and shop at stores they didn't have a chance to visit on Saturdays. Our merchants are now committed to take that extra step," Prather said. "Not only does it help the stores, but it also shows visitors what we have to offer as a community. We're trying to create a comeback potential that creates economic benefit and showcases Starkville's good experiences."
Patrons will notice musicians playing a variety of instruments and entertaining visitors downtown this Sunday during Brunch and Browse, a new feature added for this year's event series, Prather said.
A Christmas open house and the Partnership's Cookies with Santa event will replace Brunch and Browse as Nov. 23's signature Sunday event.
While visitors will find consistency on Sundays, Fridays will rotate in different events all fall. Those include: unWINE Downtown, a ladies-only shopping and wine-tasting event; Bulldog Bash, the largest, free outdoor event in Mississippi; Pumpkinpalooza, the Partnership's signature fall event; and the annual citywide tailgate.
Visitors will also find four free parking lots during the New South Weekends series at the intersection of Lafayette and Jefferson streets (behind the walk-thru at Starkville Cafe), on Lampkin Street between Lafayette and Jackson streets (next to Starkville Community Market), at the corner of Lampkin and Washington streets (next to City Hall) and at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex.
Two-hour downtown parking restrictions remain in place on Fridays.
The Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit (SMART) system will ferry visitors from numerous downtown locations - St. Joseph Catholic Church, Bank of Commerce's west lot, Starkville Electric Department, Regions Bank, Stromboli's and Bulldog Deli - to Giles Hall, located across the street from Davis Wade Stadium.
The Old Main Route and game day shuttle runs from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays, but operations extend to two hours after play ends for late games.
More information on New South Weekends can be found at http://www.visit.starkville.org, while http://www.smart.msstate.edu contains live maps and estimated shuttle arrival times.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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