Arlington fest draws 12,000 for food, fun, crafts

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From bagpipes to barbecue, the 24th annual Arlington in April was a smashing success with blue skies and big crowds Saturday, organizers said. An estimated 12,000 people attended the one-day arts and crafts festival this year on historic Depot Square.

Nancy Hooper is one of the five volunteers who make up Main Street Arlington, the organization which now hosts the event. She said, “We definitely feel this year was the best in attendance and just all-around atmosphere.”

The town formed Main Street Arlington seven years ago, designating an active group of citizens to promote and protect the historic district of Depot Square. The group pours all profits from vendor booth fees back into the town with business beautification grants and individual projects such as an Eagle Scout’s project to install a flagpole with lighting and benches in the area.

This year’s Arlington in April included 110 vendors of artwork, crafts and clothing, as well as attractions and sidewalk sales by Depot Square businesses. The Farmers’ Market did a brisk business with plump watermelons, local honey and free samples of stevia sweetener.

Experts at the historic blacksmith shop showed visitors how a smithy would operate the circa 1800s bellows and hammer hot metal into shape.

Festival-goers also browsed through the town’s other historic facilities, including the first post office, an authentic log cabin, and the Rachel H. K. Burrow Museum of local history.

They stopped strolling to watch demonstrations on how to make honey, do woodwork, and make soap out of goats’ milk. Children shrieked as they bounced in a harness hoisted high on elastic ropes, and churches organized children’s games and painted faces.

Hooper said this year’s musicians were the Wolf River Pipes, an Arlington bagpipes group, and two Christian bands: Remnant, based in Cordova and led by David Buckley, and Sing for Glenn out of Olive Branch, Miss., headed by Mark Parr. Other performers included children from Joy McDaniel Academy of Dance and Gymnastics in Arlington.

Over it all, food booths wafted smells of simmering barbecue and kettle corn, and overheated fair visitors enjoyed brightly colored cones of shaved ice.

The 2014 sponsors of Arlington in April were Jackson’s on the Square, Arlington Plumbing Co., First Citizens Bank and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

Town employees were available to help as needed, Hooper said, and other volunteers also helped.

“Special thanks go out to Navy volunteers from Millington who helped the vendors unload,” she said. “This was the best and most smoothly organized event we’ve had in seven years.”

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to