Fayetteville Festival Task Force to explore alternate event locations

Although the Walton Arts Center parking lot is certainly a convenient location for a festival in Fayetteville, it’s not the only place in town to host an event.

It’s a good thing, too, because according to the new paid parking plan, Mayor Lioneld Jordan is only allowed to close the newly gated lot 16 days a year, and most of those days are already accounted for by existing events.

The Fayetteville Festival Task Force plans to look at some of the other locations around town that might be a good fit for new festivals.

The committee was organized in July by the mayor to study how the city might be able to attract a more diverse selection of events in Fayetteville.

“We tend to think about what we know,” said Fayetteville Chief of Staff Don Marr, speaking of the tendency organizers have to want to plan events in the Walton Arts Center parking lot. “But there are lots of other venue options that are underutilized.”

Some suggestions were to look at the city’s parks and even to consider closing off streets for new events. Besides providing more location options, using streets and parks for festivals could have less of an impact on the city than closing off the 298-space arts center parking lot, said Marr.

One of the challenges the committee faces when considering alternate locations is the possible lack of infrastructure in those new venues.

Over the last ten years, Bikes, Blues & BBQ has donated over $200,000 to the city for necessary electrical upgrades to the facilities it uses, said committee chairman and BBBQ organizer Nelson Driver. The upgrades were required in order for those areas to be able to support the lighting and sound systems needed for a large event.

“I think a site survey is probably in order,” said Driver.

Other members agreed and said that a survey would give the committee an idea of where the venues are, what is available at each location, and what types of upgrades would be required to make those venues festival-ready.

The Fayetteville Festival Task Force will meet again to continue its discussion at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1 in City Hall room 326.