The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association has garnered statewide recognition as well. This year, the organization won statewide awards for Best Newsletter and Spirit of Main Street recognizing First United Methodist Church and Reverend Andy Ray for their support of and partnership with downtown.
Recent and Current Projects
This year, DTMSA has presented a series of design workshops which began with “Keeping Up Appearances,” a four-part seminar series to encourage downtown building owners to look at their renovations from a design perspective. Randy Wilson, director of Design Services for Mississippi Main Street Association, made his mark on Tupelo with his “The Universal Principles of Good Design” presentation as well providing design assistance for several building owners. The series concluded with a hands-on workshop where participants used the principles learned in the workshops to give direction for potential façade renovations in the downtown district.
Also in the works is the implementation of Downtown Tupelo’s Master Landscape Plan. In 2008, the board allocated a portion of the Tupelo Elvis Festival profits to commission a master plan for the downtown district. The plan unifies the original downtown district by bringing back ideas from the past to mirror the tree-lined boulevard of the Fairpark District. The plan calls for decorative medallions at each intersection and creating a park between the two districts. The next phase of the planning process is for staff and committee members from economic restructuring and design to work with transportation consultants. They will evaluate current and future traffic flow and parking in an effort to calm the traffic in the area and be more pedestrian friendly.
Newly-elected mayor, Jack Reed, Jr., a former recipient of the Paul Coggin Award, believes that visually merging the Fairpark area with the original downtown will strengthen Tupelo’s downtown area and draw more visitors to the district.
Events and Promotions
Downtown promotions and events are also making Tupelo’s downtown a destination for residents and visitors. Tupelo Main Street’s annual events include the Elvis Birthday Celebration, St Patrick’s Day Parade, Tupelo Elvis Festival, Chili Festival, Children’s Halloween Carnival, Holiday Open House, Fairpark Tree Lighting, Reed’s Christmas Parade and the Tupelo Farmers’ Market.
The 2009 Tupelo Elvis Festival had record breaking profits for the 2nd year in a row. The festival has grown to international proportions with 7,500 visitors from 22 states and five foreign countries.
July was noted for the launch of “Down on Main Street,” a new concert series in Fairpark which brought an estimated 1,200 people to the district. The event tapped a demographic not being reached by other events, plus increasing business for downtown restaurants.
Chili Fest will reach new levels this year with the first ever salsa competition among the downtown merchants and partnering with the Gold Wing Riders Rally of some 2,000 plus bikers from across the United States.
Getting “back to the basics” over the past couple of years, restructuring their committees for better marketing, business promotions and communication as well as developing a program of work for the organization is proving to be very effective in communication among committees, reenergizing volunteers and moving positively into the future.
From planning and implementing creative events, to designing a master landscape plan, to redeveloping an unused Fair Ground to become an integral part of the community, Tupelo has ensured that downtown has a place in the future.