Grapevine’s Main Street Fest gets ready for its 40th year

By Rebecca ChristophersonMay 14, 2024May 15th, 2024No Comments

Grapevine’s Main Street Fest gets ready for its 40th year

By Joy Donovan
Photos courtesy of Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau

The city of Grapevine has changed a little since 1984.

In the 1980s, Grapevine’s population was about 12,000 residents. Today, it nears 52,000.

The Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center had been built just the year before, but the gigantic hotels — the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Great Wolf Lodge and Hotel Vin — weren’t even on the radar.

Grapevine’s Main Street Town Square Gazebo wasn’t built yet. And in 1984, Grapevine’s mayor was William D. Tate. He’s still mayor today, so some things haven’t changed at all.

Main Street Fest brings about 150,000 visitors to downtown Grapevine each year, like the 2023 festival shown here.

But a lot definitely has changed. One of the biggest explosions is the annual Main Street Fest, this year celebrating its 40th year May 17-19 along Grapevine’s Main Street, of course.

“The reality is our overnight success here took every bit of 18 to 19 years,” said P.W. McCallum, executive director of the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau, reflecting on the festival’s four decades. Even though many think he’s been a fixture since the very beginning of Grapevine, the Australia native arrived on the scene three years after Main Street Fest originated.

More than 150,000 visitors are expected for the 2024 festival over its three days, quite a contrast from 1984. In its early years, the volunteer committee numbered about 20, but now it takes 1,100 volunteers to make Main Street Fest happen. Besides happy festival participants, the 2024 event is expected to raise more than $150,000, earmarked for historic preservation projects.

In 1984, the small, nameless event was the idea of a few merchants who wanted to attract more business. Popular shopping malls had stolen the shoppers, so downtown Grapevine merchants wanted to lure them back.

Music, food and craft brew experiences are signature pieces of the annual Main Street Fest. This year’s festival, its 40th, will be held in mid-May in downtown Grapevine.

Three years later, the merchants partnered with the state-created Texas Main Street Program and gave the event its Main Street Fest name. McCallum oversaw what was a tiny event. With grant money and education, city leaders were trained.

“One of the first things they told you was you’ve got to have a reason to have people come back to Main Street,” McCallum said.

Grapevine produced a solution that has become a 40-year success.

With a nod to his extraordinary marketing and event-staging powers, some have called him the P.T. Barnum of Grapevine. McCallum has taken a strong hold to guide the now 40-year-old festival into a three-day weekend attracting both locals and tourists.

“Grapevine serves as a model of how Main Street programs are to be developed,” he said.

The carnival midway, children’s activities, food vendors and wine tastings crowded onto Grapevine’s Main Street are what most visitors know. It’s evolved from its beginnings with new activities added each year.

Historic preservation has always been an overlying theme of Main Street Fest. The city acquired historic structures, and when streetlights were added, they intentionally designed them to look like something Grapevine’s original farmers would have chosen.

“They’re very utilitarian and period appropriate,” McCallum said. “Everything we did was thoughtful. It always has been and still is.”

Each year, Main Street Fest highlights numerous bands.

Closing Main Street, allowing pedestrians to walk about freely, proved popular. Modern touches included a sound system. Getting community organizations involved was key.

“People get proud of what’s happening and lots of volunteers are emerging,” McCallum said.

From beard-growing challenges to corn-shucking contests, some unusual competitions drew the crowds. People wanted to see shenanigans like ax throwing, speedy handcar races and hammer banging. Grapevine was even recognized by Guinness World Records for catching the most grapes by mouth.

“We had some bona fide crazies, and they made it memorable,” said McCallum, himself a beard-sporting man. “They really made it fun.”

Period-appropriate costumes of farmers and Native Americans gave way to other exhibits and shows. Now wine tasting has grown in prominence, and artwork is a popular attraction. 

Carnival rides are a staple of the annual Main Street Fest in Grapevine.

New for the 40th anniversary will be the Cotton Belt Country Club, an experience that marries craft beer and golf. At the Grapevine Vintage Railroad’s Historic Cotton Belt Depot, festival-goers can take a swing at golf-themed games, such as mini-golf and a long-drive contest, while sipping beer by the glass. A special “membership” to the club will allow visitors access to the Clubhouse Pavilion with a private bar. 

Tickets, now on sale, cost $9 for adults, $5 for children and senior citizens. Weekend passes are available for $20. Tickets may be purchased at mainstfest.com.

New business owners and new generations of visitors now support the event because they love the community spirit and the event’s feel, McCallum said.

“It works because everyone is committed to the same cause,” he said. “What 40 years of Main Street Fest means for the community is that when everyone pulls together, it’s the greatest example of all boats rise. We pull behind everybody. I think Grapevine people were always that way. There just wasn’t the platform to do it.”


May 17

11:15 a.m.-7 p.m., Gazebo Stage. The Inspiration Band
Noon-3 p.m., Liberty Park Plaza. Erick Fayard acoustic guitar
4 p.m.-7 p.m., Liberty Park Plaza. Jeff Crosby and Darci Carlson
7:30 p.m.-11 p.m., Gazebo Stage. Brad Thompson Band

May 18

11:15 a.m.-7 p.m., Gazebo Stage. The Inspiration Band
1 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Main Stage. Dreams Unwind — Fleetwood Mac Tribute
4 p.m.-7 p.m., Liberty Park Plaza. Jeff Crosby and Darci Carlson
9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m., Main Stage. Deep Blue Something

May 19

11:15 a.m.-7 p.m., Gazebo Stage. The Inspiration Band
4 p.m.-6 p.m., Liberty Park Plaza. Sugar