MusicFest kicks off 35th anniversary today

Rainy weather on Wednesday and Thursday didn't slow down preparations for MusicFest 35, which begins today at 4:30 p.m. (Matt Hutcheson/News-Times)
Rainy weather on Wednesday and Thursday didn't slow down preparations for MusicFest 35, which begins today at 4:30 p.m. (Matt Hutcheson/News-Times)

Rain didn't hinder setup for MusicFest XXXV, which is set for this weekend in downtown El Dorado.

Three stages of live music, attractions, food and crafts vendors and more kicks off at 4:30 p.m. today and will continue through Saturday.

MusicFest is the flagship fundraiser for Main Street El Dorado and this weekend, the group will celebrate a 35-year milestone.

Rain showers washed over the area Wednesday and Thursday, ushering in cool, crisp temperatures and clear, sunny skies that are forecast for the weekend.

The rain began just as crews began setting up for MusicFest Wednesday evening.

On her way back from promoting MusicFest in a TV interview in Little Rock, Beth Brumley, executive director of MSE, said Thursday afternoon that crews were busy setting up the Main Stage, tents, bleachers, tables and chairs.

"As far as I know, it's just been a bit of a trickle today," Brumley said, referring to the rainy weather.

"We're placing all the things we need to fill up the festival and we're going to pretty it up (today), like the gates, T-shirts, wristbands, so it'll all be ready to go by four o'clock," she continued.

Brumley issued a reminder that MSE is offering its "Courtesy Cart," a shuttle service in which downtown workers and patrons may request a ride on a golf cart to help them navigate downtown streets, which are closed to vehicular traffic for MusicFest.

The shuttle service will run from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. today and 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday.

To schedule a pickup, call or text 870-310-2119.

"If someone has a special need that does not fit in that timeframe, we'll see if we'll be able to work something out," said Brumley.

Live music begins at 4:30 p.m. today with Grayson May on the PJ's Coffee Stage.

Headliners and other featured performers include Tonic, Mad Hatters Dueling Pianos, Payback: James Brown Tribute, Nia Renèe, the TaylorMade Band and Crutchfield.

Kidz World and attractions open at 5 p.m. The Glow Foam Dance Party, featuring DJ Carter B, will be held from 8 until 10:30 p.m.

The party is open to children ages 8 - 15 and will be held in the Kidz World area.

Chaperones will be onsite.

Gates for MusicFest will open at 8 a.m. Saturday.

The day will include the MusicFest Rib Cookoff and 5K/10K race.

Ten-piece rib racks will be sold to the public for $25 each. Tickets go on sale from 1 - 4 p.m. in the registration tent for the competition.

Ribs will be served from 4 until 4:30 p.m.

Performing on stage Saturday night are headliners The Cadillac Three, Lorrie Morgan and Jesse Keith Whatley.

Featured performers Payton Smith, Calvin Kemble, JT Lee, Brooklyn Fogle, Chris Loggins, Los De La Haacienda, Jay Tune, BlackStrap, Jimmy Lewis and 8 Second Ride, the Side Street Steppers, Blaine Howard and Brody McKinney will all take the stage throughout the day.

School performances are scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday and the winners of the Miss MusicFest Pageant, which was held Oct. 1, will be introduced at 11:45 a.m.


Tickets for MusicFest are $40 today and $50 on Saturday.

Admission is free for everyone until 3 p.m. on Saturday. Children ages 10 and under are admitted free all weekend with a paid adult ticket.

"You can purchase tickets until it's over. If you want to go to a 10 o'clock show, you can still buy tickets at 9:59 (p.m.)." Brumley said. "You can buy them online or come to the gate and pay cash."

Pit passes are an additional $10 per day, per person. The passes allow access to the barricaded area in front of the Main Stage.

For the first time, MSE is extending a VIP concert experience to Musicfest attendees who are 21 and over.

The package includes a premium, side-stage experience; private, air-conditioned bathrooms; tables; chairs; unique MusicFest swag; hors d'oeuvres and two-drink tickets.

VIP tickets come with a $40 add-on to the cost gate/admission concert tickets for each day of the festival.

Wristbands for all-day access to paid attractions are $10 today and $20 on Saturday.

Paid attractions include the four-man jumper system, Vertigo carnival ride, Fear Factory Ropes Course, Camouflage Camp inflatable obstacle course and a rock-climbing wall.

Paid attractions are cash-only. An ATM will be available onsite.

Free activities include face-painting, putt-putt golf, archery and more.

For more information about the weekend schedule for MusicFest or to purchase tickets, visit the MSE website at or Facebook page.

A nominal fee will be applied to online ticket sales at

photo Rainy weather on Wednesday and Thursday didn't slow down preparations for MusicFest 35, which begins today at 4:30 p.m. (Matt Hutcheson/News-Times)

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