With MusicFest less than a month away, organizers are kicking into high gear to plan a celebration befitting that of a 35th anniversary milestone.
MusicFest XXXV, presented by Main Street El Dorado, is set for Oct. 6 and 7 in downtown El Dorado and will feature live music, attractions, free children's games and activities, a variety of food, craft and sales vendors, community booths and more.
Headliners are Lorrie Morgan, her son Jesse Keith Whitley, The Cadillac Three and Tonic.
Local and regional performers include The Big Payback: A Tribute to James Brown, the Mad Hatters Dueling Pianos, DJ Kn0x, Grayson May, Crutchfield, The Taylormade Band, Brody McKinney, Blane Howard, the Side Street Steppers, Jimmy Lewis and 8 Second Ride, BlackStrap, Jayy Tune, Los De La Haacienda, Chris Loggins, Brooklyn Fogle, Brody McKinney, Jordan Sheppard, JT Lee, Cavin Kemble and local school bands, orchestras and choirs.
Tickets for MusicFest went on sale immediately following the announcement of the headliners on July 20.
Beth Brumley, executive director of Main Street El Dorado, said discount sales for early-bird tickets went well, noting this is the first time MSE has offered such rates in advance of MusicFest.
Discounts for one-day admission into the festival ended Aug. 20. Prices are $40 for Oct. 6 and $50 for Oct. 7.
Weekend passes are still available for $60 until Sept. 20. Weekend passes will not be sold afterward.
"Early-bird tickets did go well. We feel like it's the most we've ever sold that early," Brumley said.
"This is also the first year we did early weekend passes and then a cut-off. Normally, we did weekend passes (at the usual rate) and then cut it off," she continued. "So, people can still buy a weekend pass for $60 or it'll be $90 for both nights."
Pit passes are an additional $10 per day, per person, and will allow access to the barricaded area in front of the Main Stage.
MSE is also extending a VIP concert experience to festival 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 of gate/admission concert tickets for each day of the festival.
"For the first time ever, we are also selling a VIP experience and some of those tickets are selling. They are limited to 100 (tickets) per night so if people want VIP experience, they may not want to wait to buy tickets," Brumley advised.
VIP ticket sales end Sept. 29.
Wristbands for all-day access to paid attractions are $10 on Oct. 6 and $20 on Oct. 7
MusicFest tickets may be purchased online by visiting www.musicfesteldorado.org. Nominal fees apply for online ticket sales.
MusicFest organizers also issued a reminder that deadlines are approaching for other festival activities.
While the bulk of MusicFest activities will take place on Oct. 6 and 7, the Miss MusicFest Pageant will kick things off at 2 p.m. on Oct. 1 at the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, 100 W. Eighth.
The pageant includes seven age divisions, ranging from newborn to 19 years old.
Entry fees are $40 per contestant and $35 each for multiple contestants who live in the same household.
The deadline to enter the pageant is Sept. 29.
Late registration will be $60 and discounts will not be offered for multiple contestants in a single household.
Registration forms and cash-only entry fees will be accepted from 10 until 11 a.m. on the day of the pageant.
Contestants who participate in the music-themed "Outfit of Choice" portion of the pageant must pay an additional fee of $15.
Music will be provided or contestants may submit their song of choice by noon Sept. 30.
Photogenic awards will be handed out for each age division. Photos must be submitted by 1:30 p.m. on the day of the pageant for a fee of $5 per photo.
Photo submissions that come in after 1:30 p.m. will be disqualified and will not be eligible for a refund.
Admission for pageant spectators is $5 and may be paid at the door. Only one assistant per contestant will be allowed backstage.
Sept. 15 is the final day to enter and guarantee a T-shirt for the MusicFest 5K/10K race, which will be held Oct. 7, Brumley said.
The entry fee for the race is $25, plus a small sign-up fee, until Sept. 29. The fee will increase after Sept. 29.
Grillers also have until noon on Sept. 29 to enter the MusicFest Rib Cookoff.
Entry fees are $120 for the rib competition and $120 for the rib competition and side awards, which include Best Team T-Shirt and Best Decorated Food Area.
"There will be no late registration for the cookoff because of the nature of the event, the ribs we still have to order," Brumley said.
Ten-piece rib racks will be sold to the public for $25 each. Tickets go on sale at 1 p.m. on Oct. 7 in the registration tent for the competition and ribs will be served from 4 until 4:30 p.m.
Vendors and volunteers
Brumley said there is space for a couple of more food vendors to set up at MusicFest XXXV and volunteers are still needed to help out with the festival.
Volunteers may work two-, four- or six-plus-hour shifts on one or both days of MusicFest XXXV.
Volunteers will receive a T-shirt and, depending on the number of hours that are worked, a choice of wristband for admission/concert or unlimited access to attractions.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering may send an email to [email protected] and include their name, age, date, hours they are available and area in which they prefer to work.
For more information about MusicFest, call the Main Street El Dorado office at 870-862-4747 or visit www.musicfesteldorado.org.