Friday, October 12, 2012
Festival Kick-Off Party Honors Volunteers and Sponsors
Special guests were those who served as chairman of Festival on the Square over the past 25 years.
TYLER The official kick-off party for Festival on the Square was held last night at Tyler's Gallery Main Street. The ostensible purpose of the gathering was for volunteers to pick up their Festival T-shirts and instructions for their work assignments for the Saturday event. But since this would be the 25th annual Festival, Main Street Department Leader Beverly Abell said it was decided to make something more of it.
"This was a kind a spur of the moment idea, to have a party for the volunteers. Usually it was just 'come by and pick up your T-shirt and instruction packet', and that was it," said Abell. She went on "then we thought 'why don't we see if we can get all 25 of the past committee chairs together and give them some special recognition?'"
Music for the party was provided by The Darby Warren Project.
I spoke with J. D. Osborn, chairman of the first Festival in 1988, and asked him what that first event was like.
"Well, it was great. We had artist booths from down here [jesturing toward the SW corner of the square] all the way around and half way down the other side," he said. "We we hauled our grand piano from home and set it up on the square. I'm afraid that it was no longer in tune by the time we got it here, but it was used all day long to back up the musicians."
When I asked Osborn how the first festival came about, he said the he had worked on Alleyfest during the time he lived in Longview, and was quite familiar with the positive effects it had on the downtown area. He said he kept bringing up the idea of a festival for Tyler in the various meetings concerning downtown. Finally, he said "They said 'Okay, if you will just shut up about the festival thing, we will do one as a trial.' That was in 1988, and the Festival in the Square has been going strong ever since."
The 25th Annual Festival on the Square Texas Music celebration takes place Saturday, Oct. 13, featuring the sounds of Whiskey Myers, Charlie Robison, Jon Wolfe and The Bigsbys.
Festival on the Square is the year's biggest fundraiser for the City of Tyler Main Street Department - proceeds of the event help fund our downtown revitalization efforts.