Final preparations for MusicFest start today with downtown road closures

35th annual festival kicks off Friday night

A drawing will be held Saturday for the commemorative MusicFest necklace. The second annual drawing is sponsored by Murphy-Pitard Jewelers. The diamond-encrusted necklace has a value of more than $6,000. (Contributed)
A drawing will be held Saturday for the commemorative MusicFest necklace. The second annual drawing is sponsored by Murphy-Pitard Jewelers. The diamond-encrusted necklace has a value of more than $6,000. (Contributed)

It's crunch time for Main Street El Dorado as the group tends to last-minute details and final preparations for MusicFest XXXV, which is set for Friday and Saturday in downtown El Dorado.

Streets will begin closing to vehicular traffic after 5 p.m. today as construction of the Main Stage gets underway at the intersection of Jefferson and Elm.

More streets will be blocked Thursday morning, said Beth Brumley, executive director of MSE.

"The streets will be blocked to vehicle traffic but people will still be able to walk in until ... 4 (p.m.) on Friday. Public walking is still accessible to enter until (4 p.m.) without charge," Brumley said, adding, "And we'll have the courtesy cart running."

Gates for MusicFest will open at 4:30 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. on Saturday.

MSE will offer a golf-cart shuttle service to ferry downtown patrons, employees and anyone else who needs such assistance while streets are closed for MusicFest.

The shuttle service will be available from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday.

To schedule a pickup, call or text 870-310-2119.

MSE is working with downtown businesses and professional offices to ensure that employees are able to easily enter the festival perimeter, which will be bound by Cleveland, Cedar, Hill and Oak streets.

The north admission gate will be located at the intersection of Washington and Elm; the west gate near Main and Washington; the south gate at Jefferson and Cedar; and the east gate at Main and Hill.

Festival

MusicFest XXXV kicked off last weekend with the Miss MusicFest Pageant, which was held Oct. 1 in the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium.

The bulk of festival activities -- including live music on three stages, vendors, attractions and more -- will start Friday afternoon.

Kidz World and attractions open at 5 p.m. Friday and the Glow Foam Dance Party, featuring DJ Carter B, will be held from 8 until 10:30 p.m.

The party is open to children ages 8 - 15 and will be held in the Kidz World area.

Chaperones will be onsite.

Friday night headliners and featured performers for MusicFest include Tonic, Mad Hatters Dueling Pianos, Payback: James Brown Tribute, Nia Renèe, the TaylorMade Band, Crutchfield and Grayson May.

Taking to stage on Saturday are The Cadillac Three, Lorrie Morgan, Jesse Keith Whatley, Payton Smith, Calvin Kemble, JT Lee, Brooklyn Fogle, Chris Loggins, Los De La Haacienda, Jay Tune, BlackStrap, Jimmy Lewis and 8 Second Ride, the Side Street Steppers, Blaine Howard and Brody McKinney.

School performances will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and Miss MusicFest Pageant winners will be introduced at 11:45 a.m.

The MusicFest Rib Cookoff and 5K/10K race are also set for Saturday.

Ten-piece rib racks will be sold to the public for $25 each. Tickets go on sale from 1 - 4 p.m. Saturday in the registration tent for the competition.

Ribs will be served from 4 until 4:30 p.m.

Brumley said approximately 20 teams have entered the rib cookoff and 50 people have signed up for the 5K/10K race.

A drawing will also be held Saturday for the 2023 commemorative MusicFest necklace.

The diamond-encrusted necklace is shaped like a guitar and has a retail value of more than $6,000.

The drawing is sponsored by Murphy-Pitard Jewelers, who crafted the custom-made necklace.

Tickets are $10 each or 12 for $100 and may be purchased by www.mainstreeteldorado.org or www.murphypitard.com.

Tickets may also be purchased at MusicFest.

The drawing will follow Morgan's performance on the Main Stage. Tickets will be on sale until the concerts start on Saturday night.

Entrants do not have to be present to win, Brumley said.

Proceeds from the drawing go to MSE.

Tickets

Tickets for MusicFest may be purchased until the nighttime concerts begin, said Brumley.

Tickets may be purchased at the gate or online at www.eventbrite.com.

Brumley said QR codes will be available at the gate. Gate attendants will also accept cash payments.

Discounts for one-day admission and weekend passes ended Aug. 20 and Sept. 20, respectively.

"Advance ticket sales went well. We had a lot of people this week who said they wish they would have taken advantage of the early-bird rates," Brumley said with a laugh.

The price of admission is $40 on Friday and $50 on Saturday.

Admission is free for everyone until 3 p.m. on Saturday. Children ages 10 and under are admitted free all weekend with a paid adult ticket.

Pit passes are an additional $10 per day, per person, and will allow access to the barricaded area in front of the Main Stage.

For the first time, MSE is extending a VIP concert experience to Musicfest attendees who are 21 and over.

The package includes a premium, side-stage experience; private, air-conditioned bathrooms; tables; chairs; unique MusicFest swag; hors d'oeuvres and two-drink tickets.

VIP tickets come with a $40 add-on to the cost gate/admission concert tickets for each day of the festival.

VIP ticket sales were to have ended Sept. 29 but people who wish to partake in the VIP experience still have the opportunity to do so.

"We still have some pit passes and some VIP tickets available," Brumley said.

Wristbands for all-day access to paid attractions are $10 on Friday and $20 on Saturday.

Paid attractions include the four-man jumper system, Vertigo carnival ride, Fear Factory Ropes Course, Camouflage Camp inflatable obstacle course and a rock-climbing wall.

Paid attractions are cash-only. An ATM will be available onsite.

Free activities include face-painting, putt-putt golf, archery and more.

For more information about MusicFest or to purchase tickets, visit the MSE website or Facebook page.

A nominal fee will be applied to online ticket sales.

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