Festival-, fair-goers pack downtown

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 22, 2002

Brandon Palmer, 4, loads his pop gun as his new friend, Jeffrey Redditt, 5, sneaks up behind him on the Old Court House grounds at the 34th annual Arts and Crafts Fair. The boys purchased the pop guns from a booth on Cherry Street. Their fathers, Tommy Palmer of Starkville and Tommy Redditt of Florida, were best friends growing up in Vicksburg and decided to meet at Riverfest this year to let their sons meet for the first time.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[04/21/02]A transformed downtown hosted hundreds of families Saturday, as festival-goers split time between Riverfest and the 34th annual Spring Arts and Crafts Fair.

Riverfest officials estimated 4,500 people were downtown for daytime activities. “This is the biggest daytime Riverfest that we’ve had,” said Rosalie Theobald, a Riverfest board member and director of Vicksburg’s Main Street program.

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Eddie Arnold, entertainment director, said the first-ever Jazzfest drew big crowds, as families came out to see students perform. Warren Central and Vicksburg High School had jazz bands in Jazzfest.

“It beat last year,” Arnold said.

Washington Street was a maze of food vendors and games inflatable space walks, dart throws and ball pits.

From atop the 25-foot climbing wall, Ann Garrison Thomas, 7, looked down with a big smile and rang the wall’s bell.

“I rang the bell,” she said as she descended. “Mommy, I rang the bell!”

Her mother, Dani Thomas, led her children from game to game throughout the day. “I had another daughter here dancing,” she said.

Ann spent the day with her best friend, Victoria Trichell, 9. Victoria said the climbing wall was their favorite and that they would climb it again.

Ann said they might try other games. “It just depends on what’s fun here.”

Vicksburg Police Lt. David Beard, who worked security at the arts and crafts fair, said the crowd was comparable to last year’s. “That or a little more,” Beard said.

Temperatures reached the high 80s Saturday as crowds shuffled around the Old Court House Museum, shopping and buying a variety of crafts, from candles to miniature wooden churches.

At the arts and crafts fair, Maggie Hoben of Vicksburg had her caricature made with Sandy Sanderford of Natchez.

Sanderford said she wanted a caricature with Hoben “because we’re best friends.”

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” she said.

“I told her I’d make her look 16 one more time,” said Terry Dean “Red Bug” Smith, the painter. Smith, adorned in a Confederate soldier’s hat, joked with his patrons, and said there was no time limit for one of his caricatures.

“It depends on how many wrinkles they have,” he said, and laughed.

Hoben crumpled up a piece of paper, and threw it at him.

Susan Warren took a break in the shade on Grove Street while grandson Brandon Richards, 7, played with a bow and arrow he bought at the fair.

“We can shoot it,” Brandon said, aiming down the sidewalk.

Warren and her sister planned to spend all day with their grandchildren. “They’re wearing our butts out,” she said.

Today the gates open at 3:30 p.m. for the last day of music and activities on Washington Street. Local groups The Ben Shaw Band and The Chill will play, followed by Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster.

The National Weather Service in Jackson is predicting partly cloudy skies for the day with highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s.