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.
“In anticipation for the Tennessee game, the MSU pep rally and Maroon Madness competition will take place starting at 6 p.m.,” she said. “Last year, Pumpkinpalooza and Maroon Madness were on the same night but at different times, so we’re very excited we’ve been able to work together to cross-promote both events.”
Gregory said she is thrilled the two events are taking place together this year as both the men’s and women’s MSU basketball teams will be introduced and participate in a shootaround.
“We’ll have a half-court set up in front of Sullivan’s Office Supply,” she said. “Players will be available after to sign autographs and hand out candy to the children.”
Gregory said the portion of Main Street between Washington and Jackson Streets will close 3 p.m. Friday.
“Washington and Jackson Streets will still be available for traffic during the event,” she said. “Main Street will open back up at 10 p.m., but we hope to have it cleared earlier than that.”
Gregory said visitors to Pumpkinpalooza can expect familiar activities from years past, including the locally grown pumpkin patch from Lancaster Farms.
“It’s always great to work with Lancaster Farms,” she said. “They are a wonderful vendor and a part of our Starkville Community Market.”
Gregory said pumpkins of various sizes will be available for sale along with $5 mums provided by Busy Bees Nursery of Macon.
“Once people have bought their pumpkins — last year they were available from anywhere between $2-$10 — the Starkville Area Arts Council will have a pumpkin painting station available,” she said. “They will be providing lots of different art supplies and ample space for the children to paint their pumpkins.”
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.
“Our Main Street merchants will be open until 8 p.m. Friday,” she said. “We’ll also have merchants off of Main Street — Harmonie Boutique, Thyme, Sprout and Vitality Spa — participating as well.”
Gregory said the MSU Fashion Board is back for another year of live model displays.
“The models will be showcasing clothes from our boutiques in their store windows with Halloween makeup and hair styles,” she said. “It’s a fun aspect to the evening, and we always appreciate their participation in our events.”
Gregory said organizers are looking for a record turnout this year as attendance has grown significantly over the past three years.
“We’re expecting anywhere between 7,000-7,500 people this year,” she said. “It’s really become the fall Halloween event in Starkville because people plan for this now and we’re marketing this to the game day crowd.”
Gregory said music for the event will be provided by Thurlow’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.
“We’re encouraging all of the retailers to decorate their windows to create a backdrop and atmosphere for the event,” she said. “We want them to put up their best decorations and get as involved as they can. The winner will have bragging rights until next year.”
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.
“For some of our retailers, this will be they’re biggest day as far as sales for the year with restaurants being packed and retailers having great sales,” she said. “Not only is this a fun event, but it really does make an economic impact on the community.”
Pumpkinpalooza begins at 6 p.m. Friday on Main Street.
For more information, contact the GSDP at 662-323-3322.