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September 14, 2009

NEW: Downtown music festival moving to two-day event

When music fans flooded downtown Norman in April, Steve Calonkey closed his Main Street furniture store and spent the next few days recovering from the aftermath and cleaning up vandalism.

But next year, when the calendar flips to April 24, Calonkey, president of Mister Robert Furniture, doesn't plan on shutting his doors.

The third annual Norman Music Festival, which highlights local musicians and national artists, announced Monday it has moved the street-closure to a Sunday, instead of the Saturday slot it occupied in previous years, and is stretching the event to an all-weekend festival.

The question about how Calonkey felt about the move wasn't finished before he interjected.

"Wonderful," said Calonkey, who has informally suggested changing the venue to a park or more "Woodstock" setting after the closing of Main Street forced him to close his business on one of its busiest days.

"This is a step in the right direction," he said.

The festival will take place April 24 and April 25, 2010.

Saturday performances will take place at night inside downtown venues like the Red Room, Opulus and Studio 360. On Sunday, the festival will be at its original location on the three-block section of the Downtown Norman Arts District on Main Street.

While festival committee members cited the concerns of downtown businesses as one of the motives behind the move, they also said the event's popularity made the change from one day to two days a win-win for the festival.

"It has always been our hope and dream to grow to a two-day venture," said Jonathan Fowler, Norman Music Festival Committee fundraising chairman and one of the event's founders.

He said eventually the festival plans to grow to two full days. The lineup of bands has yet to be finalized.

With the first festival in 2008 drawing about 13,000 guests and doubling in numbers the second year, Fowler doesn't anticipate the shift to a Sunday hindering attendance. He said there might be a drop in people traveling outside Norman, but that is a small percentage.

"If the quality of the lineup is there, I think people will come regardless of whether it is on a Saturday or Sunday," said Steve White, festival volunteer and operations manager for The Crucible Art Foundry.

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