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Southern Folk Festival Headliners Announced

Posted on April 15, 2014

Originally published in the El Dorado News-Times on April 16, 2014.

By: Tia Lyons

Spring and summer are shaping up to be busy seasons for Main Street El Dorado, with board members noting Tuesday that it will soon be time to begin planning for MusicFest, the nonprofit organization?s largest annual event.

The MSE board held its regular monthly meeting and discussed a number of events it has planned over the next several months. Organizing the warm weather events will blend into preparations for MusicFest XXVII, set for Oct. 3 and 4, in the Union Square District.

First up is the festival formerly known as Bugs, Bands and Bikes. The new Southern Folk Festival, presented by MSE, Coca-Cola and Murphy USA, is slated for May 9 and 10.

Mark Givens, executive director of MSE, explained last month that the event is transitioning from a heavy emphasis on motorcycles to El Dorado?s "The Festival City of the South? brand direction.

Givens also said then that the SFF will center on southern people and culture ? not folk music as the name may suggest ? to go hand-in-hand with a major effort that is under way by the private nonprofit El Dorado Festivals and Events, Inc., to establish the "Southern Theater Festival? and overhaul the south end of downtown El Dorado into a theater and arts entertainment district.

The musical headliners, activities and attractions for the SFF were announced on Tuesday.

"We finally confirmed everything yesterday afternoon,? Givens said.

Rising country music stars The Cadillac Three, J.T. Hodges and Dylan Scott will man the city?s Showtime! Stage with feature performances from local and regional acts, including El Dorado?s own LeBryant Crew and Louisiana Music Hall of Famers Dash Rip Rock.

Live music and crawfish, prepared by Johnny B?s, will kick off at 5 p.m. on Friday.

"The South,? TCT?s debut single, is climbing the charts, and the group is part of Jake Owen?s "Days of Gold Tour,? which is now traversing 55 cities across the country.

TCT will take the stage at 9 p.m. on the Friday night leg of the SFF. Dash Rip Rock, a trio of "roots-rockers? based in New Orleans, will precede the nine o?clock show.

The jam-packed weekend will continue at 11 a.m. on Saturday with more crawfish, southern arts and craft vendors, a Jacked-Up Truck Show, hayrides, inflatables, an oxen exhibition, hayrides, and horse and carriage rides.

Animated characters from popular feature films will also make appearances on Saturday. Woody and Jessie from "Toy Story? will be joined by the Minions from "Despicable Me.?

Other family friendly fare will be offered on the eastside steps of the Union County Courthouse during the day, Givens said.

The Main Street Poker Run will roll from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Registration will start at 8:30 a.m. on the east side of the courthouse.

The entry fee for the poker run is $25 and $15 for a passenger who is playing a hand. Entrants may purchase two extra cards for $10.

The route will last approximately two hours, and the last bike is expected to be in at 1 p.m. First-, second- and third-place winners will receive cash prizes of $300, $200, and $100, respectively.

Crew, an American Idol alum, and other local and regional acts will entertain the crowd with live music on Saturday.

Givens said downtown businesses and restaurants will also spread plenty of southern hospitality by offering specials and promotions throughout the day, and Don Miller, vice-president of the MSE board, said there will also be gift card giveaways.

Downtown restaurants will be encouraged to include southern recipes that are not normally featured on their menus. MSE board member Holly Womack added that in addition to crawfish, shrimp, corn dogs and funnel cakes will also be part of the festival food lineup.

The day will be capped off with a special production of Showdown at Sunset, the award-winning reenactment of a gunfight that took place in the early 1900s on the courthouse square, and performances by co-headliners Hodges and Scott.

Hodges? latest single, "Lay it Down,? is climbing the charts. It follows his first two radio hits, "Hunt You Down,? and "Goodbyes Made You Mine.?

Hodges was a semi-finalist for the 2013 New Artist of the Year Award for the Academy of Country Music.

Bastop, La., native Scott is also making waves on the music charts with his debut single, "Makin? This Boy Go Crazy,? which has scored more than 70,o00 digital downloads.

To register for the Jacked-Up Truck Show, register early for the poker run or sign up as a vendor for the SFF, call the MSE office or send an email to

Board members briefly discussed the footprint for festival activities, which they said will be centered around the west, north and east sides of the courthouse, leaving Main Street open.

Part of the discussion focused on the best place and way to set up the tent for alcoholic beverage sales.

There is no admission to enter the SFF, and the concerts will be free to the public.

Once the SFF wraps in May, June will usher in the 2014 run of the Summer Concert Series, which will be held the last Saturday in June and July and again on Aug. 23.

Bridging the gap between the SFF and the start of the SCS will be another beloved cartoon character.

Scooby Doo Live!: Scooby Doo?s Musical Mystery Tour will be presented by MSE, PJ?s Coffee, and the El Dorado Creamery on June 10 at the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, 100 W. Eighth.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. For more information, visit MSE?s website at

Acts that have been booked for the SCS are Jamie Lynn Spears (yes, Britney?s little sister) in June; Joshua Scott Jones (half of duo Steel Magnolia) in July; and Logan Mize ? known for his hit single, "Used Up? ? in August.

Board members noted that the SCS, which is paired with performances of Showdown at Sunset, was moved back a week in August this year.

"That was as to not to coincide with the holiday weekend. We had good crowds last year, but it was difficult to get volunteers,? Givens explained.

He said more information about all of MSE?s spring and summer events will be forthcoming. He even hinted that he?s already shopping around for acts for MusicFest.

"We?ve got so much stuff coming up, we?re trying to space some of these things out,? he said, noting that MSE is trying to make sure each individual event gets its own fair share of marketing and promotion.

Board members briefly discussed a the March 14 concert featuring Grammy Award winning country music star and actor Dwight Yoakam. The show was presented by MSE and El Dorado Metals.

Givens said the event drew more than 1,500 people from five states to the municipal auditorium, and MSE treasurer Bruce Butterfield said the show was a success, telling the board that while the final numbers have not been tallied, they look promising.

"We made money. If we break even, it?s good, but we did better than break even,? Butterfield reported.

In other business:

? During the design report, Givens said work to install new awnings on Main Street Antiques, 112 W. Main, is nearing completion. He said the awnings may go up this week.

? MSE is working to order new street banners for new lamp poles that have been erected downtown as part of a downtown sidewalk improvement project by the city.

Givens said the banners MSE purchased last year do not fit the sleeker, smaller lamp poles.

? MSE welcomed new business Clutter By Design Consignment to 201 E. Main. Givens said the clothing boutique also features home decor consignment. For more information, call 639-3975.

? Givens told the group that Main Street Arkansas is planning to conduct the local program?s annual board training during MSE?s next regular meeting on May 13."