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Old Fitzhugh could be future home for Founders parade

High capacity crowds during Dripping Springs’ annual Founders Day celebration is leading city leaders to look at ways to expand the festival’s reach.

With improvements on Old Fitzhugh Road on the horizon, Dripping Springs city officials believe expanding the event to the revamped road could not only accommodate more growth, but improve the event’s economic impact.

Within the next month, Dripping Springs’ Old Fitzhugh improvement plan will reach city council. The project will expand the aesthetic of Mercer Street to Old Fitzhugh Road, which could see an expansion of Founders Day to the neighboring street.

“We have a fixed number of booths we can set up on Mercer and, unfortunately, we’ve had to turn people away because there just isn’t the capacity,” said Evan Taddia. vice-chair for the Founders Day Commission. “I would love to see Founders grow and expand, but we need to do it in a respectable and smart way with community input.”

The festival is typically divided into four sections along Mercer Street and is aimed at a different theme for entertainment. These include arts and crafts, businesses, cook-off and entertainment areas. But the growth of the festival has limited the amount of space available for new vendors.

Taddia said he has been on the committee since 2004 when Founders Day was a smaller festival. During those days, a lot of money was spent on advertisements for the festival but has since shifted to added security measures as the growth has exploded.

Behind the scenes, the city and committee have close communication with the Hays County Sheriff’s Department, Fire and Rescue and EMS for the safety of the festival. With thousands of citizens packed in a street less than two miles long, safety is a major component of the planning.

But the advantages to the large numbers of attendees brings light to local art and business in Dripping Springs.

Founders Day gives an advantage to businesses located on Mercer Street, giving local mom and pop businesses the opportunity to showcase their commitment to the downtown area, Taddia said.

Taddia said the success of the festival lies in the hands of the community. If citizens come out and have a good time while respecting those around them, Dripping Springs and Founders will reap the benefits for years to come.

“There are thousands and thousands of people who come to Dripping Springs over the course of the weekend,” Taddia said. “Our local businesses don’t have to pay for those new customers. They come here and enjoy what we have to offer.”

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