Local businesses rally together to save the Cotton District Arts Festival

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- The Cotton District Arts Festival is a staple in Super Bulldog Weekend.

It’s something that area residents look forward to every year, and many of the vendors travel hundreds of miles to take part in it.

That’s why many people were disappointed when news broke early Saturday morning that the festival would be closed due to severe weather.

Luckily, a few local businesses stepped up to offer a solution.

“I’m staying at the Red Roof Inn right now down the road, and all I could think was ‘Oh no… what am I going to do?’ You know, because I’ve spent all of this time making stuff, I’m a full-time student, I have a nine-month-old at home and a 9-year-old. I was just like… I’ve got to figure something out,” said vendor Jordan Clark.

Clark and Ryan Semmes are just two of many vendors who had traveled hundreds of miles for the annual Cotton District Arts Festival only to have it be canceled.

“We were pretty disappointed. We had just finished unloading everything, and we were setting up when we got the news. So obviously, we were disappointed– not just for ourselves but for the whole community and all the other vendors,” said Semmes.

“At the hotel, there were people from New York, Wisconsin, everywhere. It really brings people from all over the country together,” said Clark.

“I do know that some people came from Austin, Texas. That’s ten hours away and unfortunately, the deposits are non-refundable. It’s just the way it goes,” said Ryan Handran.

Handran is the manager at Rick’s Café in Starkville. He’s also one of the various business managers across the city that decided to open their doors to any vendors who needed a place to set up.

“We know a lot of the vendors. We know a lot of the artists that have money and time invested. We have a roof and there wasn’t anything going on here this afternoon, so we opened our doors to them. At the same time, without contacting each other, 929 Coffee did the same thing, the Poporium did the same thing. It’s really been cool that we’ve all just kind of spontaneously come together to support and help out the local art community,” said Handran.

Participants say the community coming together to support local art vendors and merchants in a time of need is what the festival is all about.

“That’s why I love doing the arts festival. Most of the people that come and see me, they come and see me every year. I know their dogs. I know them. They give me hugs. They ask about my children. They ask how I’m doing, I ask how they’re doing. That’s why I love doing this,” said Clark.

“Local businesses just stood up and did it without being asked. We knew it was the right thing to do. These are our friends. These are the people that live next to us, so it was the right thing to do… We’re here making lemonade is what I like to say,” said Handran.

Several vendors also said although they hate that the festival was canceled, they understand that it was the right call to make.

Categories: Featured, Local News

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