By MATT CRANE
The New South Weekend starts 6 p.m. Friday with a downtown block party showcasing everything Starkville has to offer.
Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development chief operating officer and vice president for tourism, said she hopes the event, which is held at the College Park shopping center on Russell Street, brings numerous families and visitors.
“We’ll kick off the block party with a pep rally that will feature Bully and the MSU cheerleaders,” she said. “Live music will be provided by the Five Aces, which is a local band playing a lot of covers that are family friendly and will be familiar to a lot of people.”
Tutti Frutti, Lenny’s Sub Shop, Tony’s BBQ and Two Sisters will provide food during the event, and Gregory said the fall tailgating fashion show is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“Members of the MSU Fashion Board are going to be our models for that,” she said. “They will be modeling clothes from our Main Street boutiques.”
According to the Mississippi College Town website, True Maroon is the color for Saturday’s spirit wear, and retailers participating in the fashion show include Libby Story, LA Green, Deep South Pout, B. Davis Shoes, Reeds, Book Mart & Cafe, Frock Fashions, Oooh La La, Harmonie Boutique, Occasions, R.Tabb & Co., Bath Bayou, Christine’s Couture and George Sherman Clothiers.
Gregory said part of Friday’s block party will celebrate a special anniversary for Prudential Properties real estate agency.
“Prudential is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year,” she said. “During the block party, they’ll be providing special treats and door prizes.”
While no activities are planned outside of the College Park shopping center, Gregory said Russell Street will be closed to traffic from Fire Station No. 1 to Hogan Street at 4 p.m.
“There won’t be any activity in the street, but this is just for safety precautions,” she said. “We will keep Lampkin Street open primarily for fire safety if they have to navigate in and out.”
Gregory said the New South Weekend campaign was designed by the Starkville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau as a fall series consisting of seven home football game weekends including a Friday night event, the Saturday game and the Sunday Brunch and Browse featuring special shopping hours.
“We wanted to promote the weekends not just for the games, but for the whole weekend experience in Starkville,” she said. “We’re trying to capitalize on the 60,000-plus fans that are here for MSU football and encourage them to eat in our restaurants, shop in our great boutiques … and really find out more about what Starkville has to offer.”
Gregory said the Brunch and Browse event last weekend was a huge success and she encourages both residents and visitors to shop with downtown retailers before heading home.
“I think we experienced a lot of success with our New South Weekends last year and I’m looking forward to continuing the series of events,” she said. “Last year generated about $70,000 of new sales, and we anticipate that number to grow by quite a bit this year.”
The downtown block party lasts from 6-8 p.m. Friday, and organizers encourage visitors to utilize parking lots at Bank First Financial Services on Russell Street or Bancorp South at the northeast corner of Lampkin and Montgomery streets.
For more information, call the GSDP at 662-323-3322.