By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – A Tupelo Mother’s Day tradition will get a tweaking this year.
The 45th annual GumTree Arts Festival, usually hosted on Mother’s Day weekend, will be held a week later in the year to coincide with the Gum Tree 10K on May 14.
“We opted to pair with the run because having the run and the festival on the same date makes more sense,” said Belle Naugher, executive director of the GumTree Museum of Art.
The Gum Tree run, directed by the Tupelo Running Club, is one of Mississippi’s largest 10K races, usually drawing 1,300 to 1,500 runners.
The confusion of dates stems from a glitch in the calendar.
Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday in May, which is May 8 this year; the Gum Tree 10K is always the second Saturday in May. Some years, those days don’t fall in the same weekend, as happened this year.
“We voted on this twice with much thought,” Naugher said. “Next year, the festival will be back on Mother’s Day weekend.”
Andy Hughes, former director of the Gum Tree 10K, said it’s a misconception that the GumTree Festival has always been held on Mother’s Day weekend. He pointed to a poster from the 1994 festival, which has the dates of May 14-15 on it. Mother’s Day was May 8 that year.
“Every so often, when the calendar falls a certain way, it’s not on the same weekend,” Hughes said. “I used to think the festival was always Mother’s Day weekend, too.”
In 2005, when the dates didn’t coincide for the festival and run to be on the same weekend, organizers canceled the race. In 2011, the festival was held on Mother’s Day weekend, May 7-8, and the race moved a week later to May 14.
Brad Gibens, president of the board of directors for the museum, said the board voted last November to change the festival date to coincide with the race.
“We know we’re taking a chance on doing this,” he said. “We talked to a lot of people. If it doesn’t work well, we’ll go back to Mother’s Day permanently and never move the festival again.”
Barbara Fleishhacker, a downtown merchant who worked with the festival for 19 years, said she was disappointed the GumTree festival won’t be held on Mother’s Day weekend this year.
“It’s a very important weekend for me and my business,” said Fleishhacker, who owns The Main Attraction boutique on Main Street. “It’s a big weekend for the festival to be the same weekend as Mother’s Day. People get out and shop.”
But Fleishhacker added that she’s still going to support the festival.
“I’d rather they change the date than move it from downtown, which has been discussed in the past,” she said.