NOleput festival to debut April 5

NOleputBy Dennis Seid

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The once-popular, Mardi Gras-themed Oleput festival isn’t coming back – but in its place will be the new NOleput festival carrying the same theme.

The festival will be held downtown Tupelo on April 5, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., featuring local musicians, along with food and drink vendors.

A Color Vibe run also will be held earlier in the morning downtown, and while the two events are linked, festival organizers said they hope to have the run participants come to NOLeput.

City officials and festival volunteers tweaked the event name to accommodate a request from Oleput founder and president Monty Fletcher, who had trademarked “Oleput.”

NOleput posted on its Facebook page early Friday, “We are happy to announce that NOleput will be held in the streets of downtown Tupelo on Saturday, April 5, 2014….. This is so exciting and it will be here very soon! The event is free and open to the public. Music starts at 11 a.m showcasing local musicians throughout the day on 2 separate stages.”

The event also will include a crawfish boil, food vendors and beverages available for purchase.

NOleput will be held in the area of Clark Street, South Broadway and Spring Street – north of the railroad tracks – with a VIP area at the Silver Moon Club.

Organizers described NOleput as a “New Orleans-style festival original to Tupelo. … great music, food and fun!”

The city, Tupelo Sports Council’s All America City Picnic in the Park 4th of July Committee, Charlie Watson and a group of community volunteers worked to create the new festival.

Oleput founder and president Monty Fletcher said he supports the effort to bring it back – but he thinks the name should not be used again. Fletcher said he and the original organizers invested hundreds of thousands of dollars during Oleput’s run that ended in 1999, and the name was trademarked.

“I just don’t think you can call it Oleput because it’s not going to be the same,” he said. The old Oleput involved three days of music, plus a parade, a run and bike run, and it brought big acts like B.B. King, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, the Commodores and Steppenwolf to the festival.

Fletcher said he likes the idea of a Mardi Gras-themed festival, but thinks it should have its own identity and brand.

He also said that during Oleput’s successful run, the city wasn’t a sponsor of the event, but did support it.

“We paid for the permits, the fees just like any other festival or event did, and even though we got help from city workers, we paid them as well,” Fletcher said.

“I just find it a little ironic that it was the city that asked us to stop having the festival back then, and now they’ve come back and want the festival to return,” he added.

dennis.seid@journalinc.com