Main Street Murfreesboro Adjusts to New Normal


Main Street Murfreesboro is best known for starting off the summer with two events that were canceled this year due to Covid-19, JazzFest and Friday Night Live Concerts. But Main Street Executive Director Sarah Callender says that Murfreesboro Saturday Farmers Market will go on, as will other favorites in the fall she hopes. Her main focus through all of this is enhancing the promotion of the historical downtown.

“My goal,” Callender recently told Murfreesboro Rotary, “is to make downtown Murfreesboro equal to The Avenue.”

During current times, she is working a lot with the city to get businesses in the area heard, ensuring curbside parking in front of each store for example. And making sure the Farmer’s Market goes forward, as it supports close to 50 farmers to get their produce out during the summer months.

“We are making changes to the market,” said Callender, “to minimize socializing. We are making it more like a grocery store… We will have a map of where vendors will be located.”

The market has been expanded around the entire courthouse, allowing vendors to socially distance. They will ask vendors and shoppers to wear masks, and to let vendors be the only ones to touch the produce. Also, they ask that no pets be brought to the market.

New vendors will be on hand, and old favorites will also be there. One of the additions is the MTSU milk truck that will come with lots of everyone’s favorite ice-cold chocolate milk.

The end goal is to bring people to the square. Main Street hopes visitors will still come for breakfast before or after going to the market, and visit the stores in the area.

“[Quarantine] has been hard on downtown, but the businesses have done a good job building better websites, Facebook pages, online sales, curbside pick-up, delivery, postings, and more,” said Callender.

While coronavirus has created lots of changes in life, many event changes were already underway at Main Street. JazzFest was being split into two parts this year anyway, the professional musicians still scheduled to perform in October of 2020, and Callender hopes they will be able to have Friday Night Lights in July.

Main Street is part of a national program, and it has been in Murfreesboro for 30 years. The initial focus was on revitalization, as the downtown had fallen on hard times with cracked sidewalks and aging facades. Then after making the city look better, the focus became the promotion of the downtown area. The new focus led to all of the events that take place there, like the annual Christmas Tree Lighting. Callender is working on economic development now, towards a diversity of business offerings. She also wants to tell why it is important to shop local, and stories about individual stores with long, unique histories. She is only the fourth director of the organization.

“We are excited to have Sarah,” said Gloria Bonner, a Main Street board member. “She has expanded our scope. And we are now working with the Chamber.”

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