May 7, 2009
Although the party had to end early Saturday night due to threatening weather, Market Street organizers say the event was still a big success.
More than 30,000 lined the streets of Columbus Friday and Saturday night to take part in the festival.
To determine attendance, Main Street Manager Amber Murphree said she makes an estimate based on the number of drinks and food sold during the event.
"There''s not an exact science to it," she said. "But we can figure out based on food and drink sales about how many people would have had to be there. We had a survey team come out in 2006, and back then they told us we had an attendance of 40,000."
This year''s event raised more than $40,000 for Main Street Columbus, the organization which handles the festival. The money will be used by the organization to promote downtown Columbus with other events like Afternoon Tunes, Sounds of Summer, Wassail Fest and the Columbus Christmas Parade.
"I am proud to say I have the opportunity to work with such great people," Murphree said. "When we can all stand back and say look what we did for our community and you see the smiles on everyone''s faces it makes it all worth it."
According to law enforcement, most people stayed out of trouble during the event.
"We made a few very minor arrests during the festival, but it was definitely nothing major," said Columbus Police Chief Joseph St. John. "The crowds were very well-behaved and cooperative with us. Even when the inclement weather came, those who stayed until the end were very cooperative and even thanked us when we told them they had to get inside. It was a good time for everyone."
Five stages, 20 musical acts and 212 vendors selling everything from cold drinks to handmade walking sticks lined the downtown area of Columbus Friday and Saturday.
The threat of severe weather forced the festival to end at 9:30 before Saturday night''s final band, Blue Mountain, could take the stage.
"They were disappointed; we were disappointed," said Murphree. "We hope maybe we can get them back next year."
Columbus Fire Chief Ken Moore and St. John made the final call to close the show.
"There was thunder and lightning; we had to shut down," said Murphree.
The Friday night show, which went off without a hitch, sold a record number of tickets with 5,000 people coming downtown to see Paul Thorn and Class of ''65. The increased Friday night attendance, Murphree said, helped even out the festival''s sales.
Even the headliners of the festival were more than complimentary about Columbus'' biggest block party.
"I know how much work goes into one of these things and sometimes the little details are overlooked, but you had them covered, dotted all the I''s and crossed the T''s," wrote Paul Thorn''s business manager Billy Maddox in a letter to Murphree and everyone involved in Market Street. "Please pass this along to everyone involved, high fives all around for a job well-done."