By STEVEN NALLEY
The Cotton District Arts Festival will bring Starkvilleâ€™s best arts, music, food, and other attractions to University Boulevard Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The festivalâ€™s schedule has gotten so full that some of the music had to be moved to Friday night, Candy Crecink, executive secretary of the Starkville Area Arts Council, said. The result is the festivalâ€™s first ever Friday Night Bandstand, set for 7-10 p.m. on Page Avenue and sponsored by Bojangles. The featured performers, in order, are 4Valentine, the Jarheads and Shay Harris. All performances are one hour.
â€śLast year, we had four stages, but the festivalâ€™s gotten so big that the police and fire departments were getting nervous,â€ť Crecink said. â€śSo, weâ€™ve moved one of our stages to Friday.â€ť
That same stage, known as the Metrocast Stage, will host a variety of local talent on Saturday as well. In order, the Metrocast stageâ€™s schedule includes the Childrenâ€™s Art Awards, performances from Starkville High Schoolâ€™s â€śThe Music Man,â€ť the SHS Singers, the Armstrong Middle School Chorus and Ensemble, Starkville Academyâ€™s â€śAlice in Wonderland,â€ť Chase Sansing, the Hughes sisters, a poetry slam, and the POP Danz Team and Talent Showcase winners.
The festival will feature two other stages for musical talent: the Starkville Convention and Visitorâ€™s Bureau Main Stage near St. Josephâ€™s Catholic Church, and the TVA Rock Stage near Col. Muldrow Avenue. All performances are one hour except for headliner Paul Thornâ€™s extended performance, with 15-30 minute breaks between performances.
In order, the CVB Main Stage will feature John Milstead, Kelley McRae, The Pounders, Nash Street, and Paul Thorn. The TVA Rock Stage will feature Paul Brady, Ming Donkey, the Big Joe Shelton Band, Deacon Jones and the Late Night, and Intâ€™l Bootleggers.
Also on the CVB main stage at 1:30 p.m., between The Pounders and Nash Street, are the Songwriterâ€™s Competition winners Jordyn Mallory (first place), Josh Watts (second place) and Ethan Sumrall (third place).
The festival will also feature a Pet Parade at 9 p.m. immediately trailed by an Easter Parade. Itâ€™s still not too late to register for the Pet Parade; registration costs $12 and begins at 8:30 p.m. Registration for the Easter Parade begins at the same time and costs nothing.
The Old Cotton 5K begins at 8 a.m., with registration at 7 a.m. costing $25 and pre-registration costing $20. Winners of the race will be awarded at 9:45 a.m. at the TVA Rock Stage.
Visitors who want to see the work of artists competing in the Juried Arts Competition and Student Art Competition can find it in MSUâ€™s Visual Arts Center Gallery at 808 University Drive during the festival. The event is judged by guest juror Terry Cherry, two-time member of the Mississippi Watercolor Society.