It's that time: Craftsmen everywhere are prepping for Columbus' biggest party

April 28, 2014 9:45:48 AM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Kelsey Perry is experiencing a few butterflies, the excited kind.  


"I know there's still a lot to be done, but I work good under pressure," she smiled, deftly wielding tin snips to transform an everyday food can into a flower blossom. She's at work in her garage, surrounded by quiet woods and the occasional buzz of a bee visiting the prolific pink azaleas. The garage has become workshop central for this stay-at-home mom. At least for now, the cars have to make room for hand-crafted crosses, owls, lettered signs and photo frames Perry is readying for Columbus' Market Street Festival May 2-3.  


"I just started doing this last summer, and I've never sold anything at a festival before, so I'm a little nervous," she laughed, rearranging colorful wall hangings on stands her husband, Chris, and her dad made for her debut. She only attended her first Market Street, as it's called, last year. But she describes herself as a "God-inspired doer." And like most industrious people with an idea, once she told herself, "I can do this," Perry didn't look back.  


"Around the first of the year, I really started exploring more and realizing I could do more things, and everybody gave me feedback so I could be part of the festival," explained the New Hope crafter who works primarily with recycled wood. 




To market, to market 


Perry is one of the 220 arts and crafts vendors who will fill the streets of downtown Columbus Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They hail from across Mississippi, as well as from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.  


"We have already filled all of our arts and crafts spaces and have 18 food vendors signed up; this means all of our vendor spaces are completely filled," Festival Chair Amber Brislin said. "We have some wonderful and diverse items coming to Market Street this year." 


Many of those craftsmen are hard at work beefing up inventory. Perry hopes to have about 100 pieces ready, in addition to the Mason jar soy-based candles her aunt makes. The prep is made easier with the help of her sister, Tamron Crocker, who will help man the Perry Doodle booth Saturday.  


That's the name Perry chose her crafts line; it's one of the enjoyable parts of starting up even a small enterprise. "I'm not an artist; I don't paint, but I'm a doodler," she noted, explaining the reasoning behind the name. Selecting an appealing color scheme was fun, too. She went with soft pink and turquoise. "I know the color wheel; I know what goes together," she noted.  


Like many home crafters, Perry gets a helping hand from family and friends. Business advice from husband Chris (he holds a business degree), hands-on building skills donated by dad, assistance from her sister, and cans saved by a couple of local businesses for her projects are a few examples.  


Now all everyone needs is good weather and a huge crowd to turn out for Market Street. 




From Festival HQ 


"Countless hours have been spent by organizers gearing up for the 19th Annual Market Street Festival May 2-3, and we pride ourselves on continued improvements and additional activities and musical talents each year. This year is no different," said Brislin.  


Festival weekend kicks off Friday night at the Riverwalk at 7 p.m., with a free concert by "The Voice" veteran Shawna P and the EarthFunk Tribe and the award-winning band, Almost Famous. Concessions will be available for sale; lawn chairs or blankets are recommended.  


Saturday starts off with a new innovation: the Splash of Color 5K run/walk at 8 a.m. at the Riverwalk. 


"Almost 300 people have signed up already for this fun event!" said Barbara Bigelow Thursday. Bigelow is the director of Main Street Columbus, presenter of the festival. Participants will be splashed with non-toxic, colored powder as they make their way through the race course.  


At 9 a.m. Saturday, vendors' booths will open. But that's not all. Highlights also include multiple stages with live music, junior firefighter games, the Hands On Marketplace, Tupelo Zoo exhibit, a pancake breakfast, car and motorcycle show, zumba in the streets, Walk On Water balloons, a bungee trampoline, rock wall, video game trailer and much more.  


"We have lots in store for the thousands that will fill downtown for fun, food, entertainment, art and memories in the making." said Brislin. "I encourage everyone to visit our new and improved website, We even have a mobile app for smart phones this year; this is the best way to stay up to date on all the festival has to offer." 


The festival is the largest fundraiser for Main Street Columbus, Bigelow emphasized. "It helps ensure that downtown events, beautification efforts and improvement projects continue," she said. 


Market Street has been named a Top 20 Event in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society for the 14th consecutive year. Reasons behind that success are the dedication, generosity and efforts of sponsors and about 400 volunteers, Brislin and Bigelow stressed. And the participation of vendors, like Kelsey Perry.  


"I'm getting ready," Perry said. "And this is my hometown, so it makes it even more exciting." 


Editor's note: Find information about vendors, musical acts and activities at Watch for a festival guide insert in The Dispatch Friday.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.