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story.lead_photo.caption From left, Robert Price, Amanda Lovell and Sheryl Boyd stand by the water fountain at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce office. They are spearheading the new Fun @ Five Points festival, which will take place June 16 in downtown Jacksonville. - Photo by Mark Buffalo

A new way to celebrate downtown Jacksonville is coming to the area June 16.

The festival, Fun @ Five Points, is a collaborative effort between the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and the Jacksonville Downtown Rejuvenation Project.

The event is serving as a lead-in to the annual Jacksonville Chamber-Little Rock Air Force Base Golf Tournament, which will take place June 22 at Southern Oaks Country Club in Jacksonville.

Robert Price, a member of the Jacksonville Planning Commission, works with the rejuvenation project. He said the idea for the festival came from Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce office manager Amanda Lovell.

“There are a lot of people who can’t participate with the golf tournament or do not know how to play golf,” Lovell said. “We wanted to do something that everybody could participate in, including the city.”

Lovell said she saw something called “Fling Before the Swing” on another chamber of commerce website, and Fun @ Five Points is the equivalent.

“I took that to Dr. Price and told him what I had in mind,” Lovell said. “We wanted to do it out here in this big parking lot near the chamber office, and it grew from there. We changed the name to Fun @ Five Points because of the intersection. The more that people heard about the idea, the more who wanted to participate. It just got bigger and bigger.”

Fun @ Five Points refers to the five-point intersection of Main Street, James Street and Dupree Drive in Jacksonville.

Chamber president Sheryl Boyd reiterated Lovell’s idea.

“Lots of chambers the week before are doing something called the ‘Fling Before the Swing.’ That’s how this all sparked up. We were thinking about just doing something to promote our golf tournament, have something for people who aren’t golfers.

“In the car one day with Dr. Price, I ran the idea by him, and it grew into this, which is a collaborative effort.”

Price said the Five Points area “is something that was coined in the master plan for rejuvenating downtown. It’s one of several sites. The gateway is set where Main Street splits. We’re doing some things there as well, including landscaping, water features, and we’re building a little park down there. The next part is the loop, which is the separation of the two parts of Main Street; then it comes together here at Five Points, where we have all these streets come together.

Price said Lovell wanted to do the festival this summer.

“I said, ‘We don’t have enough time,’” Price said. “She said that we did. I said, ‘Let’s do it in October.’ She was dead set about doing it, so we all jumped in and starting planning it. We’re going to pull it off, and it’s going to look great.”

Fun @ Five Points will start at 8 a.m. with the opening of the farmers market. There will be two stages for music and activities, and those will start at 10 a.m., and entertainment and activities will conclude at 10 p.m.

There will also be activities for children, including bouncy houses and water activities. There will be a 3-point shooting contest with a cash award, Price said. Food vendors will be available as well. Admission to the event is free.

Price wrote a master plan for the rejuvenation of the downtown area.

“We have a steering committee,” he said. “Part of this, for us, the downtown program is orienting people to downtown Jacksonville with something fun to do. We’re going to try to follow it up with more restaurants, more businesses down there. So it’s part of a long-term strategy of rejuvenating the downtown area.”

Price said he’s talked to business owners in that corridor of Jacksonville, and they are on board with the festivities.

Parking for the event will be available at the Jacksonville Shopping Center on the north side of Main Street.

Price said this will not be the last Fun @ Five Points.

“We’re going to do it again,” he said. “How many times remains to be seen. I’d like to do it a couple of times a year at a minimum. We’ve got businesses involved.”

Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or mbuffalo@arkansasonline.com.

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