TUPELO – The Down on Main Summer Concert Series, which wraps up Thursday night, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential that Fairpark has, says an official with the urban renewal project.
John Oxford, chairman of the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency, has been a vocal advocate for outdoor activities downtown. Oxford says events such as Down on Main “make you proud to be someone who lives in Tupelo.”
“I think the Down on Main concert series is a perfect match for what we’re wanting to do in Fairpark,” said Oxford, whose agency oversees Fairpark. “It brings people together, it showcases the space and it supports the community.”
It also doesn’t cost taxpayers anything, he added.
The three-part concert series was paid for by sponsors and the voluntary roundup program on Tupelo Water & Light bills. The first show attracted about 1,700 people and the second had about 700 people – a decline blamed on foul weather.
Chris Root, co-chairman of the Quality of Life committee, said all age groups are welcome and have attended the series, even though the Down on Main event is part of a strategy to reach out to young people and young professionals in Tupelo.
“While Tupelo is touted as a great place to raise a family, we also want Tupelo to be a great place to live while people grow into that,” Root said.
The Tupelo Young Professionals, a group sponsored by the Community Development Foundation, is helping draw more young professionals to the event Thursday night by hosting its monthly meeting at the concert.
Rebecca Walker of Tupelo is one of the many young professionals who has attended the series and will be at Thursday’s show. She’s 32 and enjoys dancing with hula hoops at outdoor activities.
Walker and her friends frequently drive within a 100-mile radius to go to concerts where they can hoop dance. She said she’d like to see more events in Tupelo like Down on Main so she wouldn’t have to drive so far. She’d also like to see the music genres expand.
Oxford, a former chairman of the Tupelo Young Professionals group and the Quality of Life committee, also would like to see Fairpark host more events like Down on Main.
He suggested an outdoor performance by the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra, an Easter egg hunt, a community Thanksgiving meal, a fireworks show and an outdoor movie series called Flicks at Fairpark, where a flatbed truck would act as the stage for a projection screen.
“We haven’t even begun to tap what we can do with that area,” Oxford said.
Camille Sloan, president of the board of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, said the board is always looking at new events, but is limited by manpower.
This year, the board chose to partner with the Quality of Life committee and sponsor the Down on Main series, which Sloan called a win-win situation.
“It adds activity and life, which I think is vital to downtowns that are trying to reposition themselves,” Sloan said. “It’s bringing people downtown and showing it is an entertainment area.”
She said the plan is to continue the event for next year.
Root also would like to see another series next year, but said it will be determined by funding. Funding, he added, is given from sponsors when they know they’ll be able to get their message out to a large audience.
“It all depends on this next concert,” Root said. “Rain or shine, we need them to come, even if it is just to say ‘we want you to continue.’”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal