By STEVEN NALLEY
A report given during Starkville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau’s Wednesday meeting revealed lower attendance than expected at the Downtown Block Party.
Part of the CVB’s New South Weekends series of events scheduled for Fridays before Mississippi State University football games, the Downtown Block Party featured live music, inflatable jumpers and a Tailgating Wear Fashion Show to attract visitors to local restaurants and retailers. Jennifer Gregory, vice president for tourism development with GSDP, said the Starkville Police Department estimated 2,000 people attended the event.
“It was a good weekend; there were a lot of people in town, but it didn’t feel like there were as many people downtown on Friday night,” Gregory said. “I honestly expected a lot more.”
Gregory said there were other indicators of fewer visitors in town for MSU’s game against Louisiana Tech University on Sept. 24 versus other weekends. For instance, she said more than 1,700 people rode MSU’s Downtown Gameday Shuttles for MSU’s game against Louisiana State University Sept. 15.
“For Louisiana Tech, there were 350 riders, which is really strange to me,” Gregory said. “Then (Main Street Association program coordinator Robyn Cain) had seen on Facebook that a couple of the hotels had available rooms, so she called all of the major hotels in Starkville, and there were over 60 hotel rooms available this past weekend, which is crazy.”
In other business, the board also re-elected Jeremiah Dumas as CVB chair, Bethany Stich as vice-chair and renewed its management contract with GSDP, which allows CVB and GSDP to share operating expenses. Dumas said this contract will only last one year — the last one lasted seven — because the CVB needs to review its budget and GSDP’s role in it annually. He said the new contract also removes the GSDP’s prior role in handling CVB’s marketing.
“Throughout the whole document, we took out the word ‘Marketing,’” Dumas said. “Now, with the money we’re spending on the marketing side of things, we don’t have to rely on the partnership to do that marketing for us, so this contract changes in that sense.”
Finally, in his report to the CVB, GSDP President Jon Maynard announced a third new bank will be coming to Starkville, joining a Renasant Bank coming to the Thad Cochran Research Park and a Trustmark Bank to be located next to Jeweler’s Bench.
“I’m not allowed to say who they are or where they’re going,” Maynard said. “It’s a smaller bank, but they want to have a hometown presence in Starkville. They are probably not going to open their doors for about another 12 months.”