October 12, 2012 12:39:57 PM
Main Street in downtown Starkville will be closed this afternoon from Jackson Street to Washington Street at 3 p.m. in order to begin preparations for the city's fourth annual Pumpkinpalooza later tonight.
The streets are scheduled to re-open no later than 10 p.m.
The event has grown tremendously in its four years, said Jennifer Gregory, the CEO and vice president of tourism development for the sponsoring Greater Starkville Development Partnership. Gregory said a crowd of about 7,500 is expected. The inaugural event in 2009 drew about 2,500.
"The event was featured in Mississippi Magazine last year and that gave it a lot of notoriety," Gregory said. "We still do the same amount of publicity, but we see a lot more planning ahead for the event. We saw about 6,000 last year."
Festivities will kick off at 6 p.m. with the second annual Maroon Madness, a tip-off to basketball season, which includes both Mississippi State's men and women's teams. Previously, the event was held on campus, the same day as Pumpkinpalooza, but at a different time.
Gregory said she was thrilled to have MSU's Athletic Department come to the GSDP and ask for Maroon Madness to be a part of Pumpkinpalooza.
"We really are encouraging everyone to arrive on time, at six o'clock," Gregory said. "That is when the Maroon Madness pep rally will begin."
Players will be introduced and participate in a shoot-around on a half-court section in the middle of Main Street. The players will also available to sign autographs and take pictures afterward.
At 6:30 p.m., the rest of the activities will begin, and Gregory said there will be something for every member of the family.
Kids will be able to trick-or-treat with the Main Street merchants, while mom and dad shop at those same stores, many of which will have members of MSU's Fashion Board in their windows, serving as living mannequins.
There will also be inflatable jumpers and even a pumpkin patch, where families can take fall photos. Locally grown pumpkins and mums will be for sale at the pumpkin patch as well.
A pumpkin painting station will be right next to the pumpkin patch, so kids can decorate their pumpkin, without all the mess that comes from carving one.
Vendors from the Starkville Community Market will be on hand, selling fall produce, baked goods, preserves and other seasonal favorites.
"A lot of that will be eaten in the junction on Saturday, we hope," Gregory said.
All of the restaurants that line Main Street downtown will also keep their doors open, some of them, Gregory said, will boast two- and three-hour waits, but that, "there will definitely be something to do while you wait."
"It's just a great way to patronize our local merchants and restaurants, most of which will have their best sales nights of the year," Gregory said. "All this while providing a family friendly atmosphere to enjoy a home football game weekend in Starkville."