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Street Talk

Sometimes It’s Good To See Kids On The Street

By Mickey Howley

Part of the job as Main Street Director means having to travel a bit to area conferences. Mississippi Main Street headquarters in Jackson requires a minimum of four regional conference trips a year for Main Street directors, the reason being they want you to get out to see and hear what other towns are doing.

I went to several last year: Natchez, Jackson, Tupelo and the tri-state one in El Dorado, Ark. This year the tri-state conference is in New Iberia, Louisiana and the big national one in Oklahoma City. The 2011 national conference is already booked for Des Moines, Iowa. The anticipation for those three hot spots is going to kill me. Seems like the Main Street brass never heard of New York, L.A. or Vegas. By the time you read this, I’ll be on the bounce back from a statewide meeting in Ocean Springs.

But these several trips a year still don’t really give one the full picture of what Main Street is doing across the country. For that, the National Trust Main Street Center publishes a monthly magazine called “Main Street Now.” The cover article this month is about involving youth with Main Street. There are some great ideas. The Wilburton, Okla., Main Street Design Committee had the local 5th graders draw downtown facades and turn them into T-shirts.  

Main Street Opelousas, La., worked with the 8th grade state history curriculum to develop lessons on specific downtown historical buildings.  Nicholasville, Ky, Main Street had youth focused events such as: a Mutts On Main Dog Show, a downtown Easter egg hunt, and a downtown Halloween Trick or Treat night. Newton, N.J., Main Street hosts an architectural scavenger hunt (I hope they are not really pulling pieces off) called Arkidtecture Hunt where teams of kids compete to find unique and interesting architectural details downtown. There is a party after, too.

Water Valley Main Street has done some work with our local kids. During the Better Back Street project, several local church youth groups pitched in some enthusiastic labor.  Random high school kids gave up Saturday mornings in October to spruce up downtown, and I was very impressed with that.

WVMSA has organized, and will continue to do so, downtown pep rallies for the Blue Devils. Founder’s Day and the Main Street Market Festival feature games for kids from egg and spoon races to hip hula hoop hi-jinx. Movies On Main is a big draw for kids of all ages. The Art Council’s Chair-ity Auction, with much help from the artistic kids at Imagination Station, raised funds for a coming summer art camp for kids. Speaking of Imagination Station, if you get a chance, you should see their great exhibit at the North Mississippi Fish Hatchery.

Getting ready for the Farmers Market has got everybody liking tomatoes, or at least that’s what the vegetable and fruit survey said. After last Sunday’s welcome to spring snowstorm, I’m sure local produce growers are a bit nervous.

See for this week’s survey on what your favorite juvenile activity is or was on Main Street.

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