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Main Street planning busy fall for city

Mamie Avery is director of Batesville’s Main Street Program

Family fun events and making the Downtown Square a showplace of holiday decorations is the focus of this fall and winter’s efforts by the Main Street Program to help Batesville return to pre-pandemic activities.

“People are calling the office to ask about our plans for the fall and how we are going to have our events so I’m very excited to know that families are ready to come to Batesville and participate in all our activities,” said Mamie Avery, Main Street director. “Our first concern is safety for all our citizens and our visitors, and that means some adjustments will be made as we start with our programs.”

Downtown Market has enjoyed record participation from vendors and shopper participation this year, and has recently been approved to stay open a month longer by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

The farmers market is held on the Square each Wednesday through September, but Avery said she asked the city board to consider allowing the vendors to set up on Thursday during the month of October to coincide with the popular Downtown Music Series started last year.

The music series was held each Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. last year and featured local singers and songwriters. The Square is closed to traffic during the series and many families bring lawn chairs and picnic baskets to enjoy the free entertainment.

While the music is playing on Thursday evenings, children of all ages throw footballs and frisbees, ride skateboards and bicycles, and enjoy using the Square for playing with their friends while adults listen to the various acts lined up by Main Street organizers.

Last year some groups of friends set up tables with buffet items and snacks and had musical tailgating. Avery said she is expecting this year’s concert series to be just as popular, but will remind participants that social distancing guidelines from the city board will be followed.

One of the most popular events sponsored by Main Street is Scare on the Square, although heavy rains last year moved the event to the large  equestrian pavilions adjacent to the Civic Center. Hundreds of people participated and children left with bags of candy and novelties.

The children’s costume contest always draws a big field, but Avery said Main Street hasn’t made a final decision about Scare on the Square.

“Right now we just don’t know if it’s possible to do all the things that make Scare on the Square such a special day for the children and all our business and civic partners,” Avery said. “We are working every day to decide if it’s possible to have a Halloween candy and costume event while keeping everyone safe.”

Main Street may also sponsor a scarecrow decorating contest for city merchants and citizens, but those plans are also not yet finalized.

Holiday Open House is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 15, though Avery said that date may also change. Hundreds of local shoppers and visitors usually crowd Downtown Square and other city specialty shops each year when Open House is held, and Avery said business owners and organizers will also need to make some adjustments to comply with whatever health concern levels are prevalent in the county and state.

Whatever the extent of Holiday Open House and the Christmas shopping weeks at the end of the year, the Downtown Square will have more lights and decorations than ever beginning this year.

Avery hopes to make the Downtown area a “Christmas Light” tourist destination for the Mid-South, like many other areas during the holidays. Last year the city added a few more decorations and lights, but Avery hopes to continue adding until the Square is something Batesville becomes known for at Christmas.

There will be no train events in Batesville this season, although tourism officials hope that special draw is part of the holidays on the Square in coming years. For this year, Avery wants all merchants in the city to take part in special decorative scenes for their storefronts and buildings for Christmas, making the city more festive and attractive for locals and tourists alike.

“Batesville is a beautiful place and the Main Street program is working hard to promote what this wonderful city has to offer, and add a quality of life aspect for our families that are working and raising their children here now,” she said.

Cutline: Avery