Posted on August 22, 2017
By Tia Lyons
The grand opening of the city’s new arts and entertainment district is less than 50 days away, and as the date gets closer, confusion and questions are growing concerning a partnership with a long-running entertainment event that will be held in El Dorado the same week.
During a monthly meeting Tuesday, the Main Street El Dorado Board of Directors attempted to clear up some confusion and clarify matters to help citizens navigate Downtown El Dorado in late September and early October when the grand opening of the Murphy Arts District and the 30th anniversary of MusicFest will take place.
The Murphy Arts District will celebrate its grand opening Sept. 27 — Oct. 1.
MusicFest, the annual event presented by Main Street El Dorado and the organization’s flagship fundraiser, will celebrate its 30th anniversary Sept. 29 — Oct. 1.
This year, Main Street is partnering with El Dorado Festivals and Events, Inc., which is developing the Murphy Arts District, to host MusicFest.
Several months ago, Main Street announced that it will scale back on the number of large events it hosts in the city each year to allow the Murphy Arts District to take the lead in bringing entertainment to El Dorado.
Main Street board members said they would, however, team up with MAD to present local events when the opportunity arises.
The MAD grand opening and the pearl anniversary of MusicFest was the first such opportunity.
The musicians who will perform in the district as part of the grand opening celebration on Sept. 29-30 will also serve as the headliners for MusicFest. Those shows will be ticketed, and tickets have to be purchased from MAD.
Tickets go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. today, and for today, purchases must be made at the box office, 113 S. Washington Ave.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, tickets will be available at the box office, online at eldo-MAD.com, or by calling 877-940-3334.
Pamela Griffin, Main Street board member and treasurer and chief financial officer for MAD, said ticket sales will be limited to eight tickets per show for each purchaser.
“For instance, if I wanted to buy 10 tickets for the Brad Paisley concert, I could buy eight tickets, and I would have to get back in line to buy two more,” Griffin said.
“Yes, there is going to be a MusicFest, and there is probably going to be more activity downtown than ever before,” Paul Choate, president of the Main Street Board of Directors, said Tuesday.
During the daytime hours Sept. 29 — Oct. 1, other MusicFest activities separate from MAD — including musical performances on two stages, food and arts and crafts vendors, Kids World, screens showing college football games and more — will be ongoing around the Union County Courthouse Square.
Admission to MusicFest will be free. Festival-goers will have to pay for some activities, including sale items by vendors, the build-a-bar, and some “amusement-type” rides and games, Choate said.
This year will also mark the return of the Miss MusicFest Pageant, which was last held in 2013. The pageant, which includes several age divisions, will begin on Sept. 24. Entry forms are available on the MusicFest Facebook page.
Beth Brumley, executive director of Main Street, said MusicFest, usually a two-day festival, will be extended to three days to complement the last day of the MAD grand opening, which will feature a free concert with legendary crooner and songwriter Smokey Robinson and the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.
An announcement with more details about MusicFest is forthcoming, Brumley said.
She also said the MusicFest 2017 website is expected to be up and running soon.
For more information about MusicFest, call the Main Street office at 870-862-4747.
Tia Lyons can be reached at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.