May 10, 2011 12:28:00 PM
What''s the impact of the Market Street festival each year?
The final tally isn''t in. Amber Murphree-Brislin, Director of Columbus Main Street, estimated that the city''s ultimate downtown street party on Friday and Saturday drew up to 40,000 festivalgoers. A survey team from Mississippi State University is getting more scientific -- the group polled attendees and measured the crowd Saturday, and is expected to calculate its data in the coming weeks.
So we''re working on the scientific impact. But we have a gauge on the less scientific, emotional impact too.
We saw the laughing children, playing in the bounce houses, dunking a willing victim in a dunking booth, and even spraying Columbus Fire and Rescue fire hoses in the kids'' play area. We saw babies in strollers pushed by proud parents, catching up with neighbors and friends. We even talked to some people milling around the food booths and crafts tables, who said they didn''t live in Columbus anymore, but use the festival as an excuse to return home, at least one weekend a year.
We saw downtown come alive with the smells of food and sounds of music in the air. The sun was shining, the weather perfect.
We saw a crowd -- whatever the number turns out to be -- enjoying downtown Columbus. Folks have commented on the Friday night musical crowd being large and lively. Saturday night, the music relocated to the Riverwalk -- a more intimate and comfortable venue. The relocation had the added benefit of allowing the festival on Main and Market streets to break down quickly. Traffic was flowing again before the sun went down. Kudos to the organizers and members of the city street department for this welcome wrinkle in the festivities.
Laughter, friendship, reconnecting with family and old friends -- and a party atmosphere. Those are emotional, intangible benefits of the festival. They''re the hardest to measure, but also the ones we value the most.