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By MATT CRANE
Starkville community members will get their first taste of the Halloween season as the Greater Starkville Development Partnership hosts the fourth annual Pumpkinpalooza Friday from 6-8 p.m. on Main Street.
GSDP Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Tourism Development Jennifer Gregory said organizers are encouraging guests to arrive early before the 6 p.m. start time.
â€śIn anticipation for the Tennessee game, the MSU pep rally and Maroon Madness competition will take place starting at 6 p.m.,â€ť she said. â€śLast year, Pumpkinpalooza and Maroon Madness were on the same night but at different times, so weâ€™re very excited weâ€™ve been able to work together to cross-promote both events.â€ť
Gregory said she is thrilled the two events are taking place together this year as both the menâ€™s and womenâ€™s MSU basketball teams will be introduced and participate in a shootaround.
â€śWeâ€™ll have a half-court set up in front of Sullivanâ€™s Office Supply,â€ť she said. â€śPlayers will be available after to sign autographs and hand out candy to the children.â€ť
Gregory said the portion of Main Street between Washington and Jackson Streets will close 3 p.m. Friday.
â€śWashington and Jackson Streets will still be available for traffic during the event,â€ť she said. â€śMain Street will open back up at 10 p.m., but we hope to have it cleared earlier than that.â€ť
Gregory said visitors to Pumpkinpalooza can expect familiar activities from years past, including the locally grown pumpkin patch from Lancaster Farms.
â€śItâ€™s always great to work with Lancaster Farms,â€ť she said. â€śThey are a wonderful vendor and a part of our Starkville Community Market.â€ť
Gregory said pumpkins of various sizes will be available for sale along with $5 mums provided by Busy Bees Nursery of Macon.
â€śOnce people have bought their pumpkins â€” last year they were available from anywhere between $2-$10 â€” the Starkville Area Arts Council will have a pumpkin painting station available,â€ť she said. â€śThey will be providing lots of different art supplies and ample space for the children to paint their pumpkins.â€ť
Along with vendors from the Starkville Community Market selling fall produce, baked goods and preserves, Gregory said Main Street boutiques will offer late night shopping opportunities for participants.
â€śOur Main Street merchants will be open until 8 p.m. Friday,â€ť she said. â€śWeâ€™ll also have merchants off of Main Street â€” Harmonie Boutique, Thyme, Sprout and Vitality Spa â€” participating as well.â€ť
Gregory said the MSU Fashion Board is back for another year of live model displays.
â€śThe models will be showcasing clothes from our boutiques in their store windows with Halloween makeup and hair styles,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s a fun aspect to the evening, and we always appreciate their participation in our events.â€ť
Gregory said organizers are looking for a record turnout this year as attendance has grown significantly over the past three years.
â€śWeâ€™re expecting anywhere between 7,000-7,500 people this year,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s really become the fall Halloween event in Starkville because people plan for this now and weâ€™re marketing this to the game day crowd.â€ť
Gregory said music for the event will be provided by Thurlowâ€™s Party to Go who will be playing spooky, family-friendly Halloween music, and downtown retailers will help provide a festive background through a window display contest.
â€śWeâ€™re encouraging all of the retailers to decorate their windows to create a backdrop and atmosphere for the event,â€ť she said. â€śWe want them to put up their best decorations and get as involved as they can. The winner will have bragging rights until next year.â€ť
Gregory said Pumpkinpalooza provides a two-fold benefit to the city by offering a family-friendly event for residents while bringing attention to downtown businesses.
â€śFor some of our retailers, this will be theyâ€™re biggest day as far as sales for the year with restaurants being packed and retailers having great sales,â€ť she said. â€śNot only is this a fun event, but it really does make an economic impact on the community.â€ť
Pumpkinpalooza begins at 6 p.m. Friday on Main Street.
For more information, contact the GSDP at 662-323-3322.