The 17th year of Columbia’s Twilight Festival begins Thursday with some significant changes — including the relocation of several key activities — that organizers hope will help boost safety for patrons and the interests of downtown businesses.
Carrie Gartner, director of the Central Columbia Association and organizer of the Twilight Festival, said “these are changes not just our members but people who attend the festivals wanted.”
Downtown business owners are also excited to see how the changes will go over Thursday. Laura Bullion of Blue Stem Missouri Crafts said people at her business are both “apprehensive and optimistic.”
Bullion said that although she is nervous about the changes, she is pleased the main concert stage will be moved closer to her store.
“We’re just going to wait it out and see,” she said.
Lakota Coffee Co. owner Skip DuCharme said the fall festival of years past had originally taken place on Ninth Street but had been moved progressively toward the courthouse, which “sort of took the festival out of the heart of downtown.” DuCharme said that this year he is pleased to see the festival returning to its roots.
Those who attend Thursday can hear the local band The Bait Shop Boys starting at 7 p.m. on the main stage, newly located this year on a closed section of Ninth Street between Broadway and Cherry Street. Gartner said she hopes the new location “will really bring the concert series closer to the retail core and will make it more fun for the people watching it.”
The starting points for carriage rides through the District have also changed from their previous location at Courthouse Square. Beginning Thursday, carriage rides will begin at both Flat Branch Park and at Tenth Street and Broadway, with each point offering a different tour of downtown. The carriage rides “allow people to ride through the major venues of the festival, see what’s going on and get a quick overview to decide what they want to spend their time doing,” Gartner said.