If you’re new to the Madison area in the last couple of years, I’d love to tell you about a really special not-so-little-anymore festival that happens each fall right here in Historic Downtown Madison. If you’re not new to Madison and are indeed familiar with the festival, I’d love to share with you an arm of this annual event that perhaps you were unaware of.
Madison Street Festival in Madison, Alabama
The Madison Street Festival will celebrate its 40th festival on October 1st, 2022, and will feature entertainment stages, a lengthy showcase of local businesses, community artwork, a crafters area, a fun children’s and teen’s section, food galore, a car show, and even a kick-off morning parade! The festival is run by an all-volunteer team of over two dozen people who gather year-round to ensure that every inch and element of the festival has been considered in order to provide an optimal, seamless, immensely enjoyable experience for all attendees.
The best part of the festival is that it’s completely free (though vendors will be on-site with items and food for purchase if desired!)
Tens of thousands of people flock to downtown Madison for the Madison Street Festival (MSF) each year, and though it appears to simply be a grand day of entertainment, many do not know that the festival itself is actually designed to be one giant fundraiser that gives back to the community in remarkable ways.
MSF President Crystal McBrayer shares that the intention of the festival is to “support and fund educational programs around the city.”
These programs are not limited to public school programs but extend to anything that is deemed educational, such as technology programs for senior citizens, special needs programs at various local centers, and much more.
McBrayer says that the financial side of the house is actually quite simple. In a nutshell, the street festival is funded by sponsorships and vendor fees which pay for all of the logistics required to put on an event of this magnitude (i.e. signs, rental equipment, etc.) After the festival is over and all expenses are paid, the committee will determine how much money is left over and then use it to award as many grants as possible.
The goal each year is to give away a minimum of $6,000 worth of grants, though McBrayer says they are hoping for much more this year.
“There is this incredible ‘full circle’ thing that happens with the festival,” shares McBrayer. “People in our community have the chance to showcase their businesses and talents as well as come out to support everyone who is there, and then the festival gives back to the community that supports it through the grant process.”
The MSF is currently a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization with an active 501(c)(3) application pending.
Though the festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021, McBrayer explains that the committee still granted $5,000 to various educational programs throughout the community. These grants helped to fund an outdoor theater class from Discovery Middle School, a concert tuba for the Bob Jones High School band, an “art abroad” program at James Clemens High School, a “medical interventions in a laboratory setting” program for the Bob Jones High School Medical Academy, and much more. A full list of 2020 recipients can be viewed here.
When asked what motivates McBrayer to serve as president over such a large community event, she shares that she is highly motivated by the task of creating an “amazing day of community for everybody in this area” as well as the opportunity to “then give so much money back to education.”
Grant applications will be available from September 1st through October 31st, 2022 on the Madison Street Festival website. Winners will be notified in the first quarter of 2023 and be recognized at City Hall soon after to receive the money.
Madison Street Festival Registration and General Information
Are you interested in being a vendor at the MSF? Applications go live on May 15th, 2022. Click here for more information. Parade registration will also be available on May 15th.
When: Saturday, October 1st, 2022 all day!
Where: Downtown Madison, Alabama