A recently renovated downtown square, a rich cultural past, and plans for a prosperous future are just a few of the reasons to celebrate the city of Jacksonville, and plans are currently underway to do just that. On Saturday, May 17th the fourth annual Downtown Celebration, hosted by Jacksonville Main Street, will take place and the entire community is encouraged to take part in this fun filled day.
In 2011, the inaugural Downtown Celebration was organized to honor the grand reopening of the Jacksonville Square. “The streets had been opened, the storefronts were no longer covered by the canopies, and we were filling store fronts with new businesses and beautiful landscaping. It was a celebration of the new downtown and the city of Jacksonville as a whole. It was free to the public, just as a thank you for their support during that time,” explains Downtown Celebration co-chair Kristen Jenkins.
Jacksonville Main Street began hosting the event, on behalf of the city of Jacksonville, the following year and has been doing so ever since. “We felt like it was an important event to maintain and continue as it really celebrates what Jacksonville is, and everything it has to offer,” says Jenkins.
One of the main goals of the event is to have every Jacksonville organization and business represented at the Downtown Celebration in some form. One of the ways the committee is striving to meet that goal at this year’s event is through the newly added Family Activity Center. This area will house an array of family friendly and free activities, including face painting, beanbag toss games, hair braiding, and a lip syncing contest, that will all be sponsored by local organizations and businesses.
Another way this goal is being met is through the addition of classic cars being featured in the Downtown Celebration Parade, which will begin at 10:00 AM on West College Avenue and proceed east. The classic cars portion of the parade is being added in hopes of advertising Cruise Night, an exciting Jacksonville event that brings thousands of car enthusiasts to the area each year.
This year’s event will also feature the King BMX Stunt Bike Team, and musical guest Madd Hoss Jackson. The Jacksonville Park Foundation will be sponsoring a 5K run, as well as various other running, walking, and biking events. The Cass-Morgan County Farm Bureau Young Leaders’ Burger Cook-off will be occurring this year, and various other food vendors will be onsite, as well as a beer and wine pavilion. Other activities include a rock climbing wall, a fitness competition, a zip line and slide, and a trackless train, fit for both children and adults.
“We want the Downtown Celebration to show guests all that Jacksonville has to offer so we’re aiming to incorporate every aspect of Jacksonville into the Downtown Celebration. The event highlights our beautiful downtown area, which is still progressing as far as getting in new businesses, obtaining more upstairs apartments and having more residence live there, and the nightlife has really kicked up. Jacksonville Main Street’s goals is to continue that progress and have more events, more nightlife, and increase the business traffic,” says Jenkins.
For more information on the Downtown Celebration or Jacksonville Main Street, individuals are invited to visit their website at www.jacksonvillemainstreet.com.