Get Down Downtown (GDDT) festival begins Friday, Sept. 26. The free event will take place primarily along Main Street and at Spring Park through Saturday night.
Get Down Downtown is put together by Main Street Searcy, an organization dedicated to the revitalization of Searcy’s historic downtown. One purpose of Get Down Downtown is to raise awareness of Searcy’s local businesses. The festival will feature more than 100 vendors set up along Main Street, most of which represent local businesses and restaurants. Amy Burton, the Main Street Searcy executive director, said that by hosting a free, exciting event downtown, she hopes people will discover the local businesses found on the square and throughout Searcy.
“We still have a strong commercial center in downtown,” Burton said. “We hope people will see a business that they’ve not seen before — a bakery, a retail business, an office — so that they’ll come back.”
Burton said that there is a benefit to shopping local rather than visiting strip malls.
“You know who you’re getting your merchandise from,” Burton said. “It’s kind of nice to have that personal relationship that people know you by name. It has that small town feel.”
The festival offers a variety of attractions for students and residents in addition to the vendors. Main Street will be packed with concession stands, carnival rides and a climbing wall. A jumbotron and tailgate will be set up on Saturday so that college football fans can enjoy the games. Spring Park will feature attractions for children, such as a petting zoo, inflatables and pony rides.
Several special events will take place on Saturday. Author and former Congressman Ed Bethune will be in the White County Courthouse to promote his latest book. After the book signing will be a car show that will likely feature over 100 cars. The Robbins-Sanford Grand Hall will host a bridal fair throughout the day where vendors from Searcy can showcase their wedding features.
The festival will feature live music throughout the weekend, with 12 bands scheduled to perform on the Quattlebaum Music Center Stage. The music bill is headlined by country super-group Ricochet and gospel-trio The Nelons. Harding groups Good News Singers and Belles and Beaux will perform Saturday morning. The Southwestern Energy Stage at Spring Park will host several local acts Saturday morning, including choirs and cheer squads from local schools.
Senior Bethany Nicholson is currently working as an intern with Main Street Searcy. She said that Get Down Downtown is the organization’s biggest event of the year with an annual attendance of over 20,000 people. She and the rest of Main Street Searcy have been planning Get Down Downtown since she started her internship.
“I started working the first Wednesday of school,” Nicholson said. “That day I wrote a press release for Get Down Downtown and I’ve been working on Get Down Downtown ever since.”
According to Nicholson, the variety of events and attractions is what makes Get Down Downtown such a success.
“It’s going to be a very fun environment,” Nicholson said. “There’s going to be bands, there’s going to be vendors. Name a type of food and it will be there.”
Junior Sam Elander, a Searcy native, said he sees Get Down Downtown as a feature of the community.
“It’s a good gathering for the community to support local businesses and to have fun as a family,” Elander said.
Get Down Downtown goes from Sept. 26-27.
A full schedule and line-up can be found on Main Street Searcy’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/MainStreetSearcy.