As the year comes to a close, Main Street Blytheville looks back on a successful year as it prepares for a bigger and better 2013.
Main Street board president Tobye McClanahan said overall the year was a big success for MSB. With one of the biggest Mayfest events in recent years, the hiring of a new executive director and several other events meant to boost community pride and involvement 2012 was very busy for the organization.
"This year's Mayfest was probably the biggest one we've had in terms of the number of vendors and guests in a very long time," McClanahan said, "It was a great event."
In August Main Street hired Megan Atzert as the new executive director after a nation-wide search opened up in May with the departure of former director Matt Perkins.
McClanahan told the CN in August the board was excited about the potential Atzert would bring to the role, and she said the board has since reaffirmed that she was the best fit for the job.
"Megan has walked in and really made (the position) her own. She has embraced the community--this is where she lives and she's made it her home," McClanahan said, "She's also done a really good job of engaging business owners, especially some that previously weren't as involved."
Since Atzert stepped into the role in August, Main Street has bolstered its community involvement, especially with holiday activities like Trick-R-Treating at Halloween, the tree lighting ceremony in Pocket Park and Christmas carolers and pictures with Santa during the month of December, along with working closely with the KIPP Delta school and groups from Blytheville High school.
This year MSB also established Dixie Land Park, which is still under development in the old Hoops Drive-In lot.
Atzert said the park is set to be completed in phases and will include walk ways and benches as well as a miniature model of a Greyhound Bus, which she said will be created by local artists and volunteers and should be completed sometime before summer.
As Main Street slides into 2013, Atzert said a big goal is to nurture the "Main Street spirit" within the community and to continue to do things to get people to come out to Main Street, including several service projects that will get people involved with making Main Street an even better place to be.
Other big draws for Main Street this year will be the Ghost of Highway 61 bus tour and this coming year's Mayfest.
The national bus tour, which has been in the works for two years, will bring between 28-50 buses through Blytheville, a stop Atzert said she hopes will become an annual stop of the tour.
"We want to make this bus tour a huge success and be as accommodating as possible and hopefully Blytheville will be an annual stop for them," Atzert said.
"A lot of hours of planning have gone into this and we're already getting a big response," McClanahan added.
Both McClanahan and Atzert said the 2013 Mayfest will be a different experience than it has been in the past, with plans already underway to make it "bigger and better".
"This year's Mayfest is going to be a different experience," Atzert said, "It's going to be bigger and better.
"We're going to try to add some other events with it to make it more of a weekend long thing, rather than just the Saturday. We aren't going to completely change it because then it just wouldn't be Mayfest, but we are making some big changes and I think everyone will really like it."
Though Main Street has plans for some big events in 2013, Atzert said it's the smaller day-to-day things that allow her to work with people in the community that will have the biggest impact on Main Street Blytheville, as well as the rest of the city.
"The people in this city are so great to work with. They're there anytime you need them and I'm looking forward to what this year brings," said Atzert.