Archived Story

Street Festival is more than just a celebration

Published 11:54am Monday, September 27, 2010

The Madison Street Festival is right around the corner, or just down the street.

This year’s festival Oct. 2 marks the 30th anniversary of the city celebration.

What started off as a small gathering and a parade in 1970 has now blossomed into a “mark your calendar” type event, with more than 3,000 people coming to the festival in 2009.

The festival, which takes place on the streets of the historic downtown Madison, has something for everyone.

From a kids area to vendors, arts, crafts, a car show, animal demonstrations, live musical entertainment, a parade, food fun and more, the day is tailor-made for a family.

And the kicker: it’s free.

That’s the best price around.

Parking for the event is free at Madison City Schools Stadium, and the shuttle downtown is free.

Admission to the event is free, and all the entertainment is free.

Although many vendors will have freebies and coupons, the food will cost you a little bit, but if you’ve been before, you know it’s some of the best festival food around.

But every penny spent during the festival goes back into the community.

Whether it is by spending money with local vendors or the taxes that come from those transactions, the day is a win-win for all involved.

While the day is built as a celebration and fun for families and the community, the economic impact that could be made from this day is astronomical.

Other cities in the state, such as Alabaster, have begun offering family-friendly free events, and those festivals have taken off.

Seven years ago in Alabaster, city officials and local civic groups joined forces to produce CityFest, a free family event similar to the Street Festival, and the event has blossomed into an economic gold mine for the city.

In June, more than 60,000 people descended upon the town of 30,000 to attend CityFest, which featured a large children’s area with inflatables and a workshop/arts area, a car show, arts, crafts, vendors, demonstrations and musical acts ranging from local artists to Eve 6 and Travis Tritt.

Those people stayed in local hotels, ate at local restaurants, bought gas at local stations and spent money while at the festival.

The same could happen here.

A few years after the first CityFest, the Alabaster Arts Council took over the event, and they now organizing and run the event on a volunteer basis.

Corporate sponsors help fund the event each year, including the musical acts which are typically a renowned alternative artist/group and a renowned country artist/group.

In recent years, CityFest has hosted Tracy Lawrence, Terri Clark, Diamond Rio, Sister Hazel, the Gin Blossoms, Tonic and more.

While organizers of the Madison Street Festival may not want to grow the local event to the magnitude of CityFest, the possibility is certainly there.

But no festival can grow without support now.

So come out Oct. 2 from 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m. for a family-friendly, fun and free event that helps build a better city.

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