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8 things we'll miss most about Longview's AlleyFest

In Talk of East Texas

By staff
March 8, 2016 at 4:51 p.m.
Updated March 8, 2016 at 4:51 p.m.

Alas, AlleyFest is gone — for now at least.

We're going to miss the festival that began in 1979 when a group of 39 artists joined together for a show that years later became a three-day music and arts showcase in downtown Longview.

Organizers today announced the event is going on indefinite hiatus.

As we reminisce about AlleyFests gone by, a few things came to mind that we loved the most. Thus, here is our 8 things we'll miss most about AlleyFest:

1. The headliners.

AlleyFest has brought some incredible music acts to Longview, many of which were well known before they performed, including Percy Sledge (above), Blue Oyster Cult, the Black Crowes, Little River Band, Webb Wilder, and .38 Special.

The Dixie Chicks, however, performed at the festival in the early 1990s before they made it big.

Performer Eddie Money was treated to a mule ride with organizer Elaine Reynolds as the pair went to Whataburger to make a run through the drive-thru. Thing is, Money had no money, and Reynolds had to convince the clerk to give him the double-meat, double-cheese Whataburger.

2. AlleyRun.

AlleyRun had become a hallmark of the event. The 1-mile, 5- and 10K races drew hundreds of runners. In 2015, about 250 registered runners participated in the 5- or 10K AlleyRun races through downtown Longview. The race set the festival feel for the day in the city's center.

The future of the run is a bit fuzzy for now, but it wouldn't have existed without the festival.

3. Painting on a big ol' school bus.

In recent years, a school bus was parked as part of KidsFest for guests of all ages to use as a canvas. Before that, it was a car. The vehicle embodied the original spirit of an art festival by allowing anyone who was so inspired to paint on any part of them.

Sometimes in life it's hard to color inside the lines. With this car and the bus, you didn't have to.

4. The food.

Zesty nachos. Fresh-squeezed lemonade. Funnel cakes. Jamabalaya. Turkey legs. Roasted corn. Corn dogs. We could go on. From the best of fair food to cajun fare, there was something for every palate at the annual AlleyFest.

5. Getting people downtown.

Crowds started small before they swelled and dwindled some again in the lifetime thus far for AlleyFest, but it was great to see people coming downtown and enjoying themselves. People in the streets and alleys and on the sidewalks was one of the best things AlleyFest brought to our city.

Whether a visitor was there for the run and done or started at sunrise to well past sunset, it was just good to see people downtown.

The precursor to AlleyFest, however, was at Teague Park. In the 1970s, Longview held what was then known as the Loblolly Jubilee, an art event at Teague Park, according to longtime volunteer John Green. The Loblolly Jubilee was an art event that outgrew Teague Park, and it's supporters decided a bigger event venue was needed.

6. Naps.

Alright, so there wasn't always time for naps. Still, all that walking around looking at vendors, getting a bite to eat, checking out the art and visit KidsFest was enough to wear you out before the music started for the night. Sometimes, like the Puppet Man above, it was just enough to need to find a quiet spot and shut your eyes for a few.

7. KidsFest.

Not just for young people, the area of the festival offered myriad things to do for all visitors. Whether it was learning about robotics at the Longview World of Wonders tents, playing instruments, building a hat with the Mad Hatter or trying your hand on the firehose with a firefighter, KidsFest was a draw for young and old alike.

8. This guy playing bagpipes.

Maybe it didn't happen every year. Maybe it only happened one year, but in 2011, Ron Clower played his bagpipes during the festival. He and other members of the Longview Fire Department Pipes and Drums that year performed. And, hey, who isn't mesmerized by the bagpipes?



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