For the past several weeks, the El Dorado Police Department has worked closely with the Murphy Arts District to prepare for the MAD grand opening celebration and MusicFest XXX, both of which kick off this week in Downtown El Dorado.
The five-day MAD event will get under way with a private concert Wednesday and continue through Sunday with public shows headlined by ZZ Top, Natasha Bedingfield, Ludacris, Train, Brad Paisley, Migos, Smokey Robinson and more.
Starting Friday, MusicFest will celebrate its 30th anniversary in conjunction with the MAD opening by offering additional musical performances featuring local and regional acts, food and craft vendors, and family-friendly activities and attractions on the Union County Courthouse square.
The events are expected to draw throngs of visitors downtown, and the EPD and MAD have focused on developing a safety and security plan to ensure that attendees have a good time.
“We’ve had multiple meetings with the MAD security team, and we tried to cover as many scenarios as possible to provide a safe environment for everyone,” said Capt. Kevin Holt.
He said EPD officers will be posted in all MAD venues and within the perimeter of the arts and entertainment district.
Last week, MAD released details regarding parking and shuttle services, along with a list of “Dos and Don’ts” that are permitted within MAD venues on Locust Street.
Holt said the EPD wanted to reiterate the information that has been released by MAD, with a focus on items that will not be allowed within the MAD perimeter.
Some of the prohibited items are:
• Knives or weapons of any kind, including concealed firearms.
• Illegal substances, drugs or drug paraphernalia.
• Outside alcohol or flasks.
• Fake IDs.
• Fireworks or any type of explosives.
Holt stressed that there will not be any exceptions for prohibited items.
“It’s a large venue with lots of events, and there’s going to be lots of people with lots going on,” he said.
It’s kind of like going to the airport. If you bring something that’s not allowed, you have one of two options: either turn around and take it back to your car or they provide a disposable can for it,” Holt continued.
The EPD also issued several reminders regarding parking and traffic and pedestrian safety during the downtown events, including:
• Secure your vehicle when parking. Roll up the windows and lock the doors.
• If possible, park in a well-lit area.
• Do not leave valuables — such as purses, wallets and computers — in open view. Secure them in the trunk or leave them at home, if possible.
• Be cautious of fire zones and fire hydrants.
• Be mindful of parking spaces designated for citizens with disabilities. If you have a disability and park in a designated spot, make sure to display the proper license or signage.
• Beware when parking near railroad property. Parking on any railroad property, including the railroad tracks and gray-chat areas, is prohibited.
• Be cautious when parking in front of businesses and in residential areas. Do not park in restricted areas or block driveways. If you park on private property, the property owner reserves the right to have your vehicle towed.
• When traveling in groups, consider carpooling to limit the number of vehicles that will be in Downtown El Dorado or in remote parking areas around town.
• If walking a distance between parking areas and MAD venues, try to walk in pairs or in groups.
“It’s for safety, but it also helps for someone to remember where you parked. Inevitably, someone will think they parked on one street, and they parked on another,” Holt said.
• If using a shuttle service, remember that at the conclusion of MAD events, there will be a delay in pick-ups and drop-offs between MAD venues and remote parking areas.
• Be cautious of pedestrian traffic in the Union Square District throughout the day and night.
“With the people who choose to walk to MAD events, and especially during the day when there are going to be a lot of children out going to MusicFest and their family-friendly activities, pay attention,” Holt said.
“The key is it’s all about courtesy and being courteous of people and their property. That’s what we want to convey to people to make sure there’s a safe environment for everyone,” Holt said.
For more information, visit www.eldomad.com. Also, call MAD at 870-863-4547 or Holt at 870-881-4800.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.