Marketplace merchants hoping for big crowds

Published 6:00 am Friday, November 13, 2009

The shopping bug has been biting as Christmas draws closer, andMonticello’s Broad Street is the place to be Saturday to treat thesymptoms.

Organizers of the fourth annual Monticello Marketplace say thisweekend’s events will be the biggest so far, with more than 90vendors lining the streets of downtown Monticello. Lawrence CountyChamber of Commerce Administrative Assistant Gay McElroy said theday will have an attraction for every kind of visitor.

“There are so many different activities you can do, and so manydifferent vendors,” she said. “For the kids, there will be jumpersand face painting and stuff like that. We’ve added a lot of newthings this year.”

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Among the new things is the King and Queen Jingle Bell Pageant,which will feature boys ages 0-6 and girls ages 0-26. The pageanttakes place at 2 p.m. and will be on the stage on Broad Street.

In addition to the pageant, there will be live music, and thepopular gumbo cookoff will make another appearance this year

“They’d better be there by 11,” McElroy said. “It sells outpretty good. They had eight teams last year and it all sold.”

She said bowls will be sold for $5 each and after tasting asample of all the contestants’ gumbos, tasters can fill their bowlwith whichever gumbo most fits their fancy.

McElroy said the Monticello Marketplace was started to try togive downtown merchants a little more foot traffic. Many of thestores have sidewalk sales and other specials in conjunction withthe Marketplace, and she said the plan has so far been asuccess.

“Since we got the 84 bypass, we started this to try to drawcustomers into downtown areas for our local shops, and it increasestheir foot traffic tremendously,” she said. “Some of them say it’sthe best day of the year.”

The day will kick off with the Lung Walk at 9 a.m., McElroysaid, though vendors will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There willalso be a drawing for an all-terrain vehicle and a laptop computer,McElroy said.

“It’ll be a nice day to get out because it’s still kind of new,”she said. “A lot of people haven’t caught on to it yet, so it won’tbe too crowded. It should be just about right.”