Two years ago, the Lower Town Neighborhood Association held three meetings. The brainstorming sessions were a way for the association, which had just taken the reigns of the Lower Town Arts and Music Festival, to get ideas.
“We got these huge pieces of paper,” said Michael Terra, co-director of the festival. “We filled them with every thought or idea that anyone attending had.There was no filter — we got ideas from close to 80 people and wrote down everything.”
The association used those ideas the first year they coordinated the show, but the changes and brainstorming have ultimately manifested in a much larger, more inclusive event.
“Word is getting out what a great event this is,” co-director Stefanie Graves said. “We are really working on promoting the artistic talent in our entire area. We’re concentrating a lot on quality.”
In the second year under the association’s control, the Lower Town Arts and Music Festival has flourished. The festival, which shuts down six city blocks for three days, will feature twice as many artists on the street as last year, as well as three fully booked stages playing music from start to finish.
“There were so many performing artists that applied,” Terra explained. “We had the opportunity to make some really great choices from all of the talent who wanted to be a part of the festival.”
Among other changes, the association added a 40-foot-long kids tent full of activities. Murray public radio station WKMS will also do a live broadcast of “Music From the Front Porch” from the event on Saturday featuring a set from Bawn in the Mash.
“We have everything covered,” Graves said. “There’s going to be great food, lots of things to do, and even area non-profits that get to benefit from the crowd.”
While the festival’s growth is exponential, there are some signs that next year will be even bigger. Of the 45 artists with tents on the street for this year’s event, 38 of them are from outside Paducah.
“We crafted this as a community event,” Terra said. “It was important to see what the community wanted. We still have a ton of great ideas from that meeting and we try to fold in a couple new ones each year.”
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652
Want to go?
What: The Lower Town Arts and Music Festival
Where: Lower Town, Paducah. Entrances on Harrison, Madison, and Monroe streets between 6th Street and 7th Ave.
When: Friday 3 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m.
Admission is free.
For more information about the festival, go to lowertownamf.com.