JACKSONVILLE Just a year after the announced cancellation of Jacksonville’s long-running Wing Ding, the city has come up with a new offering: the Jacksonville FestiVille.
Scheduled for June 21 and 22 in Dupree Park, the event is being organized by Jacksonville Parks and Recreation.
“Jacksonville has had a festival since the ’80s, with the exception of last year,” said Dana Rozenski, city recreation coordinator.
In the past, the fest had gone by many names, including Music, Mums and Muscadines or, most recently, Wing Ding.
But after 13 years, Wing Ding was canceled in early 2012 after the 2011 festival resulted in a $12,000 loss, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, the organization that organized Wing Ding, also noted that volunteers and attendance to the festival had been dropping since 2009.
Following the cancellation, Mayor Gary Fletcher approached the parks department about creating something new.
“As a mayor, you always want to bring people to your community and find opportunities to celebrate,” Fletcher said.
The parks department decided to move the festival to summer, rather than in the fall, as Wing Ding had been. Instead of a one-day fest, the events will be spread over a two-day weekend.
“One of the things that will be different and newer is that we’ll have carnival rides and games,” Rozenski said. “We’re going to do a 5K run, have food and exhibitor booths, dance groups.”
Rozenski also noted that festival organizers hope to book an “up-and-coming country star” for a performance.
Entrance to the Jacksonville FestiVille will be free, as will parking, and the event will be alcohol-free. Funding for the festival will come from the city’s advertising and promotion commission budget.
Rozenski and Fletcher are both confident that the timing and events planned for the new festival will draw a bigger crowd than Wing Ding drew in the past.
“A lot of people take [festivals] for granted, and sometimes you have to lose something to appreciate it,” Fletcher said. “After that happened, I think the community is going to be stronger behind it. We’re very optimistic.”
Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or firstname.lastname@example.org.