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Longview's downtown AlleyFest draws large crowds

By Robyn Claridy rclaridy@news-journal.com
June 5, 2011 at 11 p.m.

Vendors and festival attendees felt record breaking temperatures Sunday at the 33rd annual AlleyFest as temperatures hit the 100-degree mark before vendors closed up shop for the year.

Suely Lohr, an artist from the Dallas area, said this was her first year to showcase her art outside of the metroplex, but enjoyed her first AlleyFest experience.

Lohr said she had a lot of buyers at her booth on Saturday, but thought the heat kept a lot of people in their home Sunday.

"We really had a good time, and will probably be back next year," she said.

AlleyFest is put on by Longview's One Hundred Acres of Heritage Main Street Program, a part of the Longview Chamber of Commerce.

Elaine Reynolds, director of the event, said the numbers were about average for Sunday, but reported fewer in attendance for the entire weekend compared with last year.

Last year, Reynolds reported the event being down in attendance by more than 4,000 people. She said between 10,000 and 12,000 visitors trekked to downtown Longview during the weekend in 2010, but reported more than 16,000 in attendance for the 2009 AlleyFest.

Despite fewer visitors, Reynolds said vendors, along with the coordinators were pleased with the turnout of the event.

"The success of the event is due to the many sponsors and about 400 volunteers who have put in 15 to 20 hour days since we started setting up Thursday," Reynolds said.

She said plenty of people were in attendance, buying from about about 80 vendors.

Thousands of families circulated through the annual event during the weekend, including hundreds who hit the streets on Sunday.

Among the crowd, one Shreveport couple braved the heat, on their motorcycles, to come to the annual even.

"It was a nice day for a ride even though it was hot," Brandon Oldham said. "We like to go to little hometown festivals in our area, and AlleyFest has been one of our regulars for a couple years now."

National Weather Service officials said the record high for June 5 in Longview was 97, which was set in 1911.

Although vendors have packed up for the season, AlleyFest officials will be back to work with planning next years event in about a month.



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