Thousands flock downtown for a cool time

Published 12:30 am Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunshine and a crisp breeze greeted folks Saturday who flocked downtown for the city’s annual fall festivities.

The day, which saw a high in the upper-70s, began with the second annual Bricks and Spokes recreational bike ride and the 29th annual Old Court House Museum Flea Market. The 17th annual Downtown Fall Festival resumed its second day of activities later in the morning.

Bricks and Spokes drew 120 cyclists, more than last year’s 82, Vicksburg Main Street Program director Kim Hopkins said.

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“The turnout was great, and we had beautiful weather,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The 10-, 35- and 50-mile routes took riders across the county and parts of Louisiana, via the U.S. 80 bridge over the Mississippi River. Cyclists took off at 8 a.m., with the first riders finishing in about an hour and the last ones about two hours later.

Brian Anderson, who moved three months ago to Vicksburg from Fort Worth, Texas, chose the 10-mile route through the city and over the bridge.

“I stopped and took pictures of the river,” said Anderson, who bikes a few times a week. “There was one hill on Mulvihill (Street) that got me winded.”

Meanwhile, on Washington Street, the Downtown Fall Festival drew about 2,800 people who shopped sidewalk sales and visited 12 vendors, Hopkins said.

Attendance was about the same as last year, she said. Concerts that were part of the festival drew about 300 people downtown Friday night.

Carroll Pierce of Dogwood Hollow Farm traveled about 120 miles from Seminary to sell homemade toiletries made from goat’s milk.

“We had heard about the (festival) from other festivals around the state,” said Pierce, a first-time vendor.

A few blocks away, the Old Court House Museum Flea Market saw 3,500 people and 150 vendors, said Bubba Bolm, curator of the Cherry Street museum.

“We have vendors representing Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma,” he said. “We already have vendors signing up for the spring festival,” set for April 14.

The spring market, held during Riverfest, Vicksburg’s annual downtown music festival, was brought back this year after a 9-year hiatus.

First-time flea market vendor Jennifer Melton was selling jewelry.

“I’ve been making jewelry for four years and this is my first major festival,” said Melton, of Vicksburg. “I was very excited and nervous at the same time.”

Making a return was Kristie Monceaux of EG Creations of Crowville, La. The family business sells homemade girls’ dresses and bows and handbags.

“The last time we were here, we did very well,” Monceaux said.