Returning patrons to the Historic Mansfield and Music and Arts Festival will find more to do, see and hear during the seven-day event that begins Monday.But bringing out new stuff is nothing new for the festival, including a new name this year – it’s now Festival Week in Mansfield, embracing its three festivals as one.The changes, additions, expansions have come almost perennially. The Historic Mansfield Music and Arts Music Festival, which debuted in 2007 as a single-day event, soon added a second day. Then it merged two years ago with the German-themed Wurst Fest – which served as an opening act on Friday for the Music and Arts Festival on Saturday and Sunday.Last year, a series of small, weeknight band performances, the Hot Beats & Cold Brews Concerts, Monday through Thursday, extended the festival to a full week as an estimated 15,000 patrons circulated through the 100 block of North Main Street, the core of the historic downtown.“Each of the events is distinctly different from the others,” said Steve Cosio, president of Discover Historic Mansfield, a non-profit that funds the festival and other downtown-oriented events. “Why not give it one name instead of three names?”The festival has lined up two regionally popular headliners for the Music and Arts Festival weekend, each capping a day of live band performances that start at noon.The Dallas-based Old 97’s take the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday, and Fort Worth bluesman Buddy Whittington closes the festival with his show, from about 4:30-6 p.m. Sunday.Aside from the drawing power of a bigger event, festival officials said costs in manpower are greater with three separate events. For example, they said, closing the street for the three-day weekend is much easier than getting permission to close a street for two or three separate events.“It’s more efficient to deal with the rental companies and the barricade people and the (state) highway department” for a single event, said Ann Smith, vice president of the board. “The best use of money is to do it this way.”The weekend will feature arts and crafts, a chili cook-off, classic car show and a broad sampling of food vendors. Also, the festival is doubling the Hot Beats weeknight performances – there will two bands performing in two downtown stores nightly.Other additions include a business expo for local merchants and a Sunday battle of the bands. And the students and staff of J.L. Boren Elementary School, whose building was demolished this summer to make room for a new one, will have their fall carnival on the downtown festival grounds Saturday.“Each time we’ve done a little something to make it bigger,” Smith said. “Wurst Fest got us to three days, and last year we blew it up to seven days.”Smith and her husband, optometrist Robert Smith, whose office is on the Main Street block where most the festivities will play out, are sponsoring one of the bands in the Hot Beats concerts. For the festival music, the number of stages employed increases to four this year. In addition to the two main stages on Main Street, the Farr Best Theater, which sits in the midst of the festival activities in the 100 block of Main St., will host a couple of bands Saturday afternoon to provide a break from the heat.The local club Fat Daddy’s at 781 W Debbie Lane will provide a fourth stage, allowing anyone with a festival bracelet free admission to continue the party at the club.“Not everybody will want to go home at 10:30 at night,” Smith said. “Anybody who wants to keep dancing can go over to Fat Daddy’s and dance until 2 in the morning. And many of us will.”While Cosio is hoping everyone has fun, especially out-of-towners, he’s also counting on that joy translating into warm feelings about Mansfield come time to buy a new home or open a business.“The mission of the festival is to get people, especially those who have never been to the festival, to come downtown and see the array of shops, boutiques and restaurants,” Cosio said. And he wants them to fan out well beyond the festival grounds, “because historic Mansfield goes so much farther than that one block.”More details about bands and other activities are available at www.mansfieldfestival.com.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann