ECRU • The quaint town of Ecru, located in northern Pontotoc County, has a population of just 1,300 people. However, the upcoming Heart of Ecru Festival hopes to showcase just how big of a heart this small town has.
When the festival returns to downtown Ecru on Saturday, Oct. 1, it will mark just its second iteration. It’s also the first since the start of the pandemic, and town residents seemingly can’t wait for the comeback celebration.
Patty Turk serves the small but mighty town as mayor. For her, the festival is a way to invite visitors in to learn what lies at the heart of their town.
“We are so excited,” said Patty Turk, mayor of the small but might town. Turk, who also works as a relator, said the festival is the perfect way to invite new people — folks who may have passed through Ecru without giving it a second look — a chance to see everything the community offers.
“It started out as a peach festival,” Turk said of the event. “Then, COVID-19 hit, and we decided to rename the festival the Heart of Ecru because we’re known as the little town with the big heart.”
The festival will kick off at 9 a.m. in the town’s recently revitalized downtown area. Like any festival worth its salt, The Heart of Ecru will offer plenty for attendees to see and do (and eat). Arts and crafts vendors will be set up throughout the downtown area to share their unique wares with guests, and those who come hungry will find a fleet of food trucks on hand for a snack (or a full meal).
For those who come looking for something to see and hear, The Heart of Ecru Festival will feature a magic show at Pannell Park. Live music will fill the air around Ecru’s Main Street throughout the day.
Other activities will include an antique car show and a fun-filled kids’ area.
Turk said the goal for the kids’ area is to provide a fun, family experience that won’t break the bank.
“We wanted to have a kids’ area that wouldn’t be terribly expensive for families,” the mayor said. “They can buy an arm band for $5 and jump in the bouncy houses as long as they want. We’ve also got a petting zoo.”
Ecru’s downtown area has recently undergone various renovations and is home to boutiques, furniture stores, a flower shop, two restaurants and more.
Ecru native Stephanie Coomer is helping to plan this year’s festival. While the inaugural event was fun, she said she’s expecting the festival’s return to be bigger and better.
Even behind the scenes, The Heart of Ecru Festival lives up to its name. Planning for the event as handled by a small group of citizen volunteers, all of whom want to showcase the best of what their beloved town offers.
“Our No. 1 goal is to give the community a place to gather, and I think everyone is trying to get back to a more normal routine of business after the pandemic,” Coomer said.
As the Deputy Director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, Coomer is using her experience in tourism to help her hometown host a successful festival.
“Our downtown merchants will be open to expose our downtown area and the beautiful renaissance of Ecru to more people,” she said. “We hope to have steady traffic through the day.”
This year’s festival organizers are striving to recruit attendees from all over North Mississippi and show off all their charming little town.
As Coomer put it: “It’s just a beautiful place to stroll the streets.”
For more information about the second annual Heart of Ecru Festival, visit Heart of Ecru Fest on Facebook.