With their summer events in full swing, Main Street El Dorado and Murphy Arts District are looking ahead to the fall and will soon announce headliners for MusicFest 2018.
Bab Tarren, chief marketing officer for MAD, said MusicFest headliners will be revealed at 6 p.m. July 17 at the Griffin Restaurant.
MusicFest XXXI is set for Oct. 18 - 20 in downtown El Dorado.
As they did last year, MSE and MAD are partnering to present the event, Main Street’s flagship fundraiser, with MAD booking the headliners for the main stages and Main Street focusing on attractions, vendors and local and regional acts for the side stages.
The 30th anniversary of MusicFest was held in conjunction with the grand opening of MAD on Sept. 27 - Oct. 1, 2017, and featured Smokey Robinson, Train, Natasha Bedingfield, Migos, ZZ Top, X Ambassadors, Lyle Lovett, Ludacris and more.
“It’s going to be a good, crazy combination of acts like last year. We think people are going to say, ‘Wow, how did they get those acts?!' We think that’s how people are going to react,” Tarren said of this year’s lineup.
During a Main Street board meeting Tuesday, board president Bruce Butterfield said the first MusicFest planning committee meeting is set for 5 p.m. July 25 at the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 111 W. Main.
Beth Brumley, executive director of Main Street, said efforts are under way to expand attractions for MusicFest, adding that the organization is open to ideas.
Some ideas that have been discussed include carnival rides, laser tag and a car simulator.
Showdown and Summer Concert Series
Brumley reported this year’s first installment of Showdown at Sunset and the Summer Concert Series went well on June 23.
A new activity, Grill Wars, was introduced this year and kicked off with a sanctioned steak cookoff.
The winner received a bid to the Steak Cookoff Association national cookoff.
First, second and third place winners were Chuck Edwards, Allen Newton and Carrie Green, respectively.
Brumley said the cookoff drew 24 teams, mostly local.
A last-minute addition to the event, a Baggo tournament, attracted 16 players, several of whom came from Magnolia, said Holly Womack, MSE executive assistant.
“So we decided to add it for the rest of the summer, and we’re thinking about doing a big one for MusicFest,” Brumley said.
The next Showdown and Summer Concert Series is set for July 28. The events are free and open to the public.
The day will begin at 9 a.m. with Grill Wars. This month, the theme is Mac’s Tree Service Yard Bird Throwdown, in which teams will grill chicken leg-quarters.
The cost to enter Grill Wars is $50 per team.
For an additional $15 and a chance at winning more cash prizes, teams may also prepare a “Mystery Meat,” which will be provided by Main Street.
“They won’t know what it is, but they will get it and figure out how to cook it,” Brumley said.
Yardbird awards are $750 for first place, $300 for second place and $150 for third place. Prizes will also be awarded for Team Spirit award, with first, second and third place winners receiving $100, $50 and $25, respectively.
For the “Mystery Meat” challenge, prizes are $150 for first place, $300 for second place and $150 for third.
Cash prizes will also be awarded for a third contest involving food preparation on July 28.
To celebrate National Ice Cream Month, which is held in July, a homemade ice cream contest is set for 4:30 p.m. on Elm Street.
The entry fee is $25, and prizes include $125, $75 and $25 to the top three winners, respectively.
Set up for the ice cream contest is 3 p.m. and samples must be turned in for judging from 5:30 until 6 p.m.
Ice cream will be served to the Showdown crowd.
The day will also include free horse and carriage rides from 3 until 7 p.m. and family-oriented games. Vendors will also be on site.
The cost to enter the Baggo tournament is $20 per person. The first place winner will receive $100, two tickets to MusicFest and pit passes for the Summer Concert Series, which will be headlined this month by Jason D. Williams.
Second and third place winners will receive $40 and SCS pit passes and $20 and SCS pit passes, respectively.
Showdown will start at 6 p.m. on the east side (Jefferson Avenue) of the Union County Courthouse and the concert will immediately follow with a performance by Williams in the MAD Amphitheater.
Downtown retailers are also handing out pit passes to the Summer Concert Series.
“For those of us who couldn’t make it (June 23), was there a lot of traffic downtown?” asked Bruce Butterfield, president of the Main Street board.
Brumley said yes, noting that teams in the steak cook-off and Baggo tournament were accompanied by family and friends.
Board members said many downtown merchants offered sidewalk sales and invited people inside their businesses.
One complaint, board members noted, was for Cruise Night, a display of classic cars, hot-rods and other novelty automobiles, to have started earlier.
Cruise Night was held in conjunction with Showdown and the Summer Concert Series.
Brumley noted that Cruise Night is not a Main Street event, and its organizers changed the date of the show, which is typically held the last Saturday of the month, to June 23 to complement the activities of the day.
“Ours is the fourth Saturday, and the only month it mattered this year was June,” Brumley said.
The time slot for Cruise night is 4 until 6 p.m. on the west side of the Union County Courthouse.
Board members Buddy McAdams and Paul Waschka noted that the Black Gold Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) held an awareness rally and car show at the Union County Fairgounds the same day.
Brumley said announcements are forthcoming for the headliner for the Aug. 25 Summer Concert Series.
Activities next month will be oriented toward children as part of a “Back to School” theme, Brumley said.
Grill Wars will include a children’s division in which participants will cook a pork chop, and there will be a children’s division for the Baggo tournament, she said.
For more information, call Main Street at 870-862-4747 or visit the Main Street Facebook page.
Main Street board member Pam Griffin, chief financial officer for MAD, said attendance is picking up for MAD Movie Monday, which is held in the MAD Amphitheater.
Griffin said 500 - 600 people attended the outdoor movie Monday, noting that crowds have grown by 100 people each week since MAD launched the event in June.
“We tried to do that downtown several years ago, and the problem we ran into is that we couldn’t find a place for it,” said Paul Choate, immediate past president of the Main Street board.
“Having the (MAD Playscape) there helps,” Butterfield noted. The playscape, which is across the street from the amphitheater, opened in late May.
Movies are shown at sundown each Monday. Admission is free. Concessions open at 8 p.m.
For more information, visit www.eldomad.com or call 870-863-4547.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.