Posted on March 11, 2020
By Tia Lyons
As Main Street El Dorado prepares for its St. Patrick’s Day celebration Saturday, the group is also restructuring its events schedule for the remainder of the year and has agreed to cancel one event.
Smoke on the Square, a fall festival that was launched last year, has been scrapped for 2020, said Beth Brumley, executive director of MSE.
MSE board member discussed the matter during a regular meeting Tuesday.
There had been some question about if Smoke on the Square would return this year.
Main Street introduced the festival last October to serve as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization and to add to its roster another promotional event that would bring people downtown.
Smoke on the Square featured a variety of fall-themed activities and attractions and centered around a grilling competition, a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS)-sanctioned event in which local and out-of-town teams competed for cash prizes with a guaranteed pot starting at $20,000.
This year, Smoke had tentatively been set for Oct. 24 but on Tuesday, Brumley said Main Street had put the kibosh on plans for the festival this year.
With only a two-week lapse between MusicFest, which is set for Oct. 3, and the tentative date for Smoke, Brumley said Main Street had placed a tight squeeze on itself.
She also cited the revival of Bugs, Bands and Bikes, an annual festival that Main Street last hosted in 2014. BBB is set for April 13 and will include live music, activities for motorcycles, crawfish and more.
“With us doing Bugs, Bands and Bikes, we decided to take one thing off the table. We’ll look at bringing Smoke on the Square back in 2021,” Brumley said.
The second annual Shamrockin’ on the Square, which will include games, live music and crawfish and a beer garden, is set for 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday.
“That’s rain or shine, so put your boots on and come downtown,” Brumley said.
Admission is free. LaBella Gourmet Gifts and Delicatessen, sponsor of Shamrockin’ on the Square, will host a crawfish boil and will sell mudbugs and shrimp on-site.
A beer garden will also be set up on South Washington Avenue. The cost is $5.
Performers Terry Lyne Moore, a Smackover native, and J.T. Lee will take the stage at 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m., respectively.
There will be games, including Baggo, Giant Jenga and Tic Tac Toe, for children and adults and downtown businesses will host promotions throughout the day, during which customers may win prizes or discounts off their purchases.
Holly McDonald, MSE administrative assistant, said there will not be inflatables as was previously reported.
“It’s an atmospheric event for downtown,” McDonald said.
Main Street is working with other sponsors MAD and Murphy USA to brand its summer events, Grill Wars, Showdown at Sunset and the Summer Concert Series, Brumley said.
The 2020 theme will be Summer in the City and the events, which are all held the same day, are set for June 27, July 25 and Aug. 22.
Main Street board members said the concerts will be moved two blocks south this year to the First Financial Music Hall.
Greg Withrow, MSE board president, said moving the concerts indoors to an air-conditioned venue will give those who attend summer events during the day a respite from the heat later in the evening.
There will also be a $5 cover charge for the concerts. The other summer events are free.
Brumley and Pamela Griffin, president and chief operating officer for MAD, said more details are forthcoming about the concert series and MusicFest, which is also a joint effort by Main Street and MAD.
MAD books the musical headliners and Main Street focuses on the festival attractions and activities.
The third annual Airstreams on the Square, which promotes the RV lifestyle, is scheduled for Sept. 10 and 14, and Brumley and McDonald said 14 airstreamers have already registered for the event.
For several days, airstreamers from several states camp out downtown to help boost traffic for mom-and-pop retail shops, raise money for local charitable organizations and to interact with residents by exposing them to the Airstream lifestyle.
“We expect this year’s Airstream event to be bigger than ever,” Brumley said.
The 2019 event drew about 24 airstreamers from Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama, South Carolina and Ohio.
On Tuesday, Main Street board members said more airstreamers were expected to turn out last year but some airstreamers who had registered from Florida and nearby areas canceled because of Hurricane Dorian, which struck Florida just days before the El Dorado Airstream event was scheduled.
MSE partners with the Arkansas Razorbacks Airstream Club to host the event. Airstreams is typically planned the same weekend as the SouthArk Outdoor Expo, which is held two blocks south at the El Dorado Conference Center.
McDonald said the theme for this year’s Airstream event is the 1950s and per usual, ancillary activities will be planned and will be open to the public.
Bruce Butterfield, MSE advisory board member, asked how many RVs can be accommodated downtown and Brumley said about 40.
“That’s what we had hoped for last year,” she said.
“In May or June, we need to really do some logistics. We don’t want to turn people away because we don’t have anywhere for them to park down there,” Butterfield said.