Annual Arts and Music Festival Returns to the Brick Streets / Gracie Lee

After a year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Red Brick Roads Arts and Music Festival is returning to the brick streets of Clinton. The festival will begin on the evening of Friday, Aug. 27 and continue on into Saturday. Attendees can expect to see music and art showcases of all kinds, including local songwriters, on-site painting, craft markets, and a local talent competition. The festival made its debut in 2019, just before the pandemic put a pause on the festivities in 2020, and is open to the public to apply.

           The gates open at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, and festivities commence with a songwriter showcase at 7:00. Sam Mooney, a musician from Mississippi, is hosting the showcase, with headliner Elliot Root performing at 8:30. Events begin as early as 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, starting with a craft market which will continue until the festival’s end at 8:30. Approximately 15-20 vendors are expected to appear. 

            The talent competition also begins at 12:00 and runs until 3:00, followed by local bands performing at 4:00. The lineup includes returning bands Strung Like a Horse, J & The Causeways, and Sweet Crude. The New Respects is a newcomer to the annual event. “In our minds, this is the fifth year. It’s kind of a reunion…a ‘back to business’ after COVID, and wanting to bring something back that we’ve had before,” Anna Hawks, assistant director of Main Street Clinton, said.

Tickets are available in advance for $20, or visitors can purchase them at the gate. They sell for $10 on Friday night and $15 on Saturday. Locals who want more comfortable accommodations, like air conditioning, can purchase a $125 ticket for the VIP tent. 

This is not the festival’s first rodeo. Director of Main Street Clinton Tara Lytal and Hawks first coordinated the event in 2016, making this year its fifth anniversary. “We started because we wanted a music festival downtown. The Chamber was doing a music festival just outside the city of Clinton, and we had started a little festival in the summer called Firefly, and we decided to combine them,” Lytal said. 

  After that, it became a crowd favorite, with activities the whole family could enjoy. “The title of the festival is Red Brick Roads Music and Arts Festival, and so that name kind of encompasses lots of different things. So obviously music is kind of the focus, but ‘arts’ kind of opens it up to tons of things,” Hawks said. “Friday night is a songwriter night. Friday is kind of chill. Saturday is fun–is how I like to think of it,” she added.

        Not only has the festival given aspiring musicians a chance to showcase their talent, but it has also introduced new music to the public. “A lot of the artists we had the first time, people really loved. They didn’t know them before they came to Red Brick Roads, but then they really fell in love with that music and have listened to them consistently since then,” Hawks said. “They’re excited to see those bands back in Clinton.” 

Music isn’t the only thing drawing crowds. Lytal and Hawks expect food trucks to line the streets, although they haven’t released a list of vendors yet. “We basically close downtown down,” Lytal joked. She expects Jefferson and Leake Street to be blocked off up until the Chamber building at the corner of Monroe and Leake Street. They will begin blocking streets on Friday morning. Meme’s Bakery will be the location of kid-friendly games and activities.

         For Lytal and Hawks, their motivation in planning the event is rooted in more than a job well done. “For us as organizers, it’s so much work–it’s exhausting–but when you see all the people there enjoying themselves, it’s wonderful. Whether it’s the kids enjoying some of the art activities, or just neighbors visiting with each other–just seeing our community come together,” Lytal said. “Now we’re moving into our fifth year, our community looks forward to it, and you start to get feedback from that. People are proud of it.”

         Hawks shared a similar pride in her hard work. “I will never forget the very first year… Our headliner was playing on that stage, and I was standing behind the whole crowd, just kind of watching it happen. It was just so fun to see great, great music playing downtown in this quaint atmosphere. It was our community, our little brick streets,” she remembered. “There was a guy with a cane and he was just tapping his cane against the brick streets.” 

           The continual collaboration between Main Street, the Chamber, and the City of Clinton makes the beloved event possible. Trustmark has hosted the tradition since 2016. “ We are thankful for their support over the last several years. [They are] a great supporter of downtown Clinton,” Hawks said.

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