TUPELO – Music and summer treats had downtown Tupelo buzzing on Thursday.
The area celebrated summer with a picnic during the day and the first of the free Down on Main concert series at night.
The heat of the afternoon didn’t keep folks away from Down on Main, where hundreds showed up in Fairpark to hear Hill Country Revue and John Paul Keith & the 145s.
“I’m freezing to death up here,” Keith joked to the crowd. “I hope you guys are okay.”
The heat stopped L.V. Ratcliff from riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle up from Houston, but he and Dorthia Walters made it out to the show anyway.
“They’ve got the playground and the fountain for the kids, and cold beverages for the adults – it’s nice,” Ratcliff said.
Between the bands, the crowd was treated to a surprise performance by the Partlow Drummers.
Blues band Hill Country Revue had the audience on its feet, dancing and swaying to the tunes. Guitarist Cody Dickinson wowed by playing his electric washboard.
Down on Main organizer Chris Root said he was thrilled with the turnout and the weather, which cooled off nicely after sunset.
“People want something to do in Tupelo. People are willing to embrace live music and original music,” he said.
New at this year’s concerts is Artist Alley, a chance for area artists to show off.
Two more Down on Main shows are on the schedule.
The Infamous Stringdusters and Sanders Bohlke will perform Aug. 12, and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Moon Taxi will perform Sept. 9.
Downtown Tupelo merchants said at least twice as many people came out for this year’s free picnic compared to last year. The picnic trail, which consisted of nine merchants, offered free food from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.
Kirksey Brothers Furniture ran out of pimento cheese sandwiches in an hour.
MLM owner Jimmy Long was making tomato sandwiches with tomatoes from his garden.
All the merchants said they saw a lot of new people during the activity. Many of those people were shopping as well as eating, the merchants said.
“Anytime you bring people downtown to go into your place of business, it’s good,” Long said.
Carlie Kollath contributed to this story.
Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal