SEARCY, Ark. – For the 12thyear in a row, thousands of people from across the state will gather in historic downtown Searcy for one of the biggest music festivals in Central Arkansas. For two days, Get Down Downtown takes over downtown Searcy, from the courthouse square all the way down Spring Street to Spring Park, featuring live music, food, local vendors, games, rides, and much, much, more.
This year though, the festival is bigger than ever thanks to the Revolution that has overtaken Searcy.
The free annual music festival began in 2008 as the brainchild of Amy Burton, executive director of Main Street Searcy.
“When we started Get Down Downtown, there was not an event of its type in Searcy,” said Burton. “As a Main Street organization, we needed some sort of ‘wow’ factor to get the community to come into Searcy’s downtown. We decided that the downtown district lent itself to this type of event.”
Main Street Searcy is a non-profit organization, and part of Main Street America, a program of the National Main Street Center focused on the revitalization and preservation of America’s historic downtown commercial districts.
“The goal of Get Down Downtown was to get people downtown, to see that Searcy is a town with a lot to offer,” said Burton.
Keeping the event free to the public has been not only vital to its success, but something Amy Burton believes is important.
“We look at the event as a ‘quality of life’ activity,” said Burton. “Something that’s fun and accessible to everyone, which is why we’ve kept admission free every year.”
Amy has been able to do just that thanks to sponsors like First Security Bank, Regions Bank, Lake Ice, Quattlebaum Music, Crain Media, Hoffmann Architecture, Ideal Office Machines, and Conley Graphics – just to name a few — who have been helping fund the event since year one.
“I just can’t say enough positive things about the support we’ve received from the community,” said Burton. “Most of our sponsors have supported us since year one. They believed us when we said ‘It’s going to be great’ and have helped make it so.”
This year, Amy was able to get extra funding for the event thanks to the A&P Commission. Main Street Searcy was awarded $20,000 to go toward the Get Down Downtown’s music and activities.
“We’re able to take Get Down to the next level,” said Burton. “It was huge to have that. We paid the highest booking fee we’ve ever paid before for our headliner act. It allowed us to bring in Sammy Kershaw at a higher rate. That includes his special guest, the Wilson Brothers band. We were able to pay a little bit more for their booking fee.”
Country star Sammy Kershaw is the latest in a long line of headline acts but might be the biggest name the event has had yet. Previous headliners include Restless Heart, Little Texas, and Deana Carter.
Funds from the A&P tax are also going toward increasing the number of vendors in town as well as the activities.
This year’s festival will include the first annual Funnel Cake 5k, a run that finishes with a free funnel cake for participants. The 1-mile Cotton Candy Classic fun run rewards runners, walkers, and joggers with a voucher for a free cotton candy.
The music festival is also teaming up with the annual Will McGary Memorial Car Show. This will be the 7thyear of the event that was created to benefit the Officer Will McGary Memorial Foundation.
“We feel that with the increase in the music lineup, the 5k, and teaming up with the Will McGary Car Show, we will bring in a whole new crowd this year,” said Burton.
The “revolution” and arrival of the series Small Business Revolutionin Searcy helped lead the way not only for the A&P tax but increased interest in the community and its goings on. With promotion for season four of the Hulu series underway, there’s already a buzz building about Searcy and around the state. That should only help increase awareness about Get Down Downtown as well as other events in Searcy.
“Those first few years we estimate our attendance was around 15,000,” said Burton. “Last year, we easily had 30,000.”
The 12thannual Get Down Downtown festival will be held Friday, September 27 from 6-10 p.m., and Saturday, September 28 from 10 am to 10 pm. Those interested in participating in the Funnel Cake 5k or Cotton Candy Classic can register online. Get more information about the event on Facebook, the Searcy.com event calendar, or on the Get Down Downtown website.
*This content is provided on behalf of the Searcy A&P Commission.