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First annual Front Street Festival draws huge crowd

Christmas on Commercial Street is a local’s favorite tradition to kick off the Christmas season. This has been the only time in recent history that Commercial Street is closed to auto traffic for the duration of the afternoon while the community floods the storefronts and vendors for Christmas activities. 

However, on Saturday, June 1, Commercial Street was once again shut down to auto traffic so the community could enjoy the first annual Front Street Festival.

Many may ask why the name switch from Commercial Street to Front Street when the events took place on the same street. When the Transcontinental railroad reached Morgan City in 1869, businesses in Morgan relocated closer to the tracks to better serve railroad workers and to take advantage of the transportation provided by the railroad. As a result, the businesses were situated in front of the railroad, and Commercial Street also became known as Front Street. 

The Front Street Festival was to celebrate the newly reconstructed train station. 

In 1926, the Union Pacific Railroad constructed the depot at 98 North Commercial Street. Designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood. With help from the Morgan Valley Preservation Society, work was completed earlier this year on the nearly 100-year-old building with Morgan Historical Society moving into the building. 

The Festival kicked off with the Morgan High School Drum Line under the direction of Chad McLean. Throughout the day several groups performed musical numbers including Morgan Valley Children’s Choir, Steve Allen on the Saxophone, The Morgan Community Choir, students from Morgan Valley Music, Morgan Valley Orchestra, and Riverdale City band and concluding with Jayden Pierce playing his guitar and singing. A Morgan event just wouldn’t be the same without Jerry Pierce Emceeing the event and Golden Spike Train rides.

Food trucks and Morgan storefronts stayed busy feeding the hundreds of people enjoying the festivities. In addition, several artists displayed their talents. 

“It was an honor to be part of Morgan County's first festival,” said artist Nick Williams of Odin’s Eye in Bountiful. “The small-town experience and great sense of community reminded me of what a great country we live in and how proud I am to be a part of it.” He mentioned that it was interesting to see local musicians, artists and even marching band members come together to make this a fun, family-friendly and wholesome experience for all. “As someone who lives near Morgan, I left this experience hoping to be invited again. Also hoping that Morgan County continues to be the good, traditional peaceful and wholesome American town that it is.”

Comments were made that it is fun to have a summer kickoff activity similar to the Christmas kickoff on the same street.

Festival goers picked up a train ticket that was punched as they made their way through the various stops along Front Street. These tickets were then entered into a raffle for prizes.

MVP Committee Vice Chair, Cherril Grose, said the intention is to make this a yearly event where the preservation society would spotlight a historical building in Morgan. 

The Festival Committee was chaired by Heidi Williams with the help of Cherril Grose, John Patterson, Mayor Steve Gale, Ty Bailey, Cody Rendon, Jeff Mathews, Heidi Williams, Mike Kendall and Cindy Kay, all who are part of the Morgan Valley Preservation Society. 

MVP would also like to thank the following for their support in helping to make the first annual Front Street Festival a success: Morgan County Historical Board, Morgan Arts Council, Morgan City, Morgan County Library, Morgan City and Morgan County. 

Most of all the committee wants to say thank you to all who participated by enjoying the festival and supporting the Kick-off of the Historical Society in the newly renovated Train Depot. λ

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