The first Paris Fest brought 54 local businesses, shops, artists and historical organizations together under one roof Saturday at Love Civic Center. The goal? To celebrate all Paris has to offer, said Paul Allen, president of the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce.

“We just invited people to come out and see what Paris has to offer, because we want to celebrate Paris and what we do have, and not contemplate and think about what we don’t have, because we have a lot of great businesses in Paris,” he said.

The festival included vendors such as local boutiques; the historical museum; Paris Junior College’s art program; and artisans such as a sculptor, a glassworker and gourd-worker. The festival was the result of an ongoing conversation at the chamber and several boards, such as Main Street Board, Allen said. The initial idea was met with approval, and was the result of several months’ work.

“People seem to be enjoying themselves, the crowd is staying steady, we’re very pleased so far,” Allen said.

Dylan’s Drivers’ fundraiser was happening that same day outside the Civic Center, which Allen mentioned was a plus for attendees.

“This was a great time to have this event because we’ve got a great nonprofit organization going on next door, we’ve got Dylan’s Drivers,” Allen said. “We’ve seen some traffic go back and forth, which I think is great because we’ve got so many great nonprofits in Lamar County, so people have trickled back and forth.”

Jeremy Glossip, owner of Small Town Beard Company, was at Paris Fest with a booth for his beard care line. He said the event was a great way to connect with customers and promote his small business, which he started in Cooper.

“This has been a blast here,” Glossip said. “This has been great, because I normally set up at the farmer’s market, but this is nice, indoor, climate controlled — and people here are actually coming to look for knick knacks and things other than just vegetables. It’s something different, which I love.”

Attendee Lauren Huff said she had enjoyed stopping at the local boutique booths.

“I think it’s really awesome for the community, and all the local shops to get together, it puts a lot back into our town,” Huff said.

Attendee Trinity McReynolds said it was nice to come out and see the artists at Paris Fest.

“This is really nice. I really like being able to see some of our local venders. Some of these artists are very good,” she said.

Allen guessed there had been over 400 event visitors so far, about halfway through the day. He said the chamber would be sending out a survey to vendors, asking if they would participate again next year and if so, if they would do anything differently. The chamber was pleased with the outcome of the event, he said.

“It’s turned out great. We’re proud of Paris,” he said.

Macon Atkinson is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6963 or macon.atkinson@theparisnews.com.

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