Market Street Festival will celebrate its 25th year Friday and Saturday and the public is invited.
This year’s theme is Mardi Gras, which Main Street Columbus Executive Director Barbara Bigelow said reflects the organizers’ wish to celebrate.
“We’re not only celebrating the 25th anniversary that we would have celebrated in 2020. We are celebrating the opportunity to get back to doing public events, safely, and enjoy the activities we did that were halted,” she said.
The festival kicks off with the Second Line Parade at 6 p.m. Friday. The public is encouraged to dress in festive attire and go to the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market parking lot, where line-up starts at 5:30 p.m.
The All for One Brass Band will kick off the parade, followed by Columbus Lowndes Public Library icon, Mother Goose.
The band will perform from 6-7:30 p.m., followed by Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters from 8-9:30 p.m. at the Lowndes County Soccer Complex.
Saturday, things kick off with the Mardi Gras Madness 5K (3.1 mile) Run and Walk, which starts at 8 a.m. at the soccer complex. Costumes are encouraged and prizes will be awarded.
The festival itself will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year, there will be two children’s play areas and three entertainment stages featuring more than 20 musical acts. There will also be car show, as well as other activities.
Bigelow and Market Street Festival Coordinator Amber Brislin said the festival will be held as safely as they possibly can.
“We hope that everybody who feels comfortable can come and enjoy it,” Brislin said. “We’ll be turning right around and doing it again in May 2022. … Although the date is a little different this year, everything else is shaping up to be the same as what people normally expect in May.”
Next year’s event will be held May 6-7.
Market Street Festival is something the Columbus community looks forward to every year, Brislin said.
“It’s very important,” she said. “Barbara and I can both attest to this, so many people are just so glad that we’re able to finally have the event. It has been missed.
“Not only for that economic impact that we were talking about, and not just what it does for our downtown, but for the community’s quality of life,” Brislin continued.
Bigelow noted that the organizers aim for a family friendly festival in all aspects of the event — from the activities to the band to the food.
“We try to add a lot of fun into it for the kids, as well as something the adults will enjoy. So it includes something for everyone in the entire community,” she said.
One special event coming to the festival is the auction of a T-shirt quilt featuring every festival shirt. The auction is being held on the Market Street Festival’s Facebook page. Bids will be accepted until 5 p.m. Saturday, the end of the festival. The winner will be announced the following week, Bigelow said.
The quilt is on display in the window of the Columbus Arts Council gallery.
Bigelow and Brislin noted that each year, the festival has a different theme, such as beach, hippie and country.
While the Mardi Gras theme was done in the past, it was so well-received that organizers brought it back.
“We’ve always had a theme that people really run with,” Brislin said. “(Mardi Gras) has a really celebratory feel.”
In 2016, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters performed at the festival’s Friday concert, Bigelow said.
“Everybody loved them,” she said. “Since then we’ve had many, many people say, ‘When are you going to have them again?’ So we’re actually having them again.’”
The festival encompasses 12 blocks in downtown Columbus. Brislin said it’s a huge weekend, not only for downtown businesses and restaurants, but also the vendors for all the area businesses.
“We have vendors from 11 different states,” Bigelow said. “Many of these vendors have been with us for several years, some since the beginning.”
Market Street Festival also serves as the largest fundraiser for Main Street Columbus.
“It helps to ensure all of the other events that we’re able to offer throughout the year can take place,” Brislin said. Such projects include other events during the year, revitalization of downtown buildings and beautification projects.
“We want to encourage people while they’re here for the festival, certainly to look around, but not to forget our local downtown shops that will be open that day,” Bigelow said.