Main Street Texarkana hopes for better weather for this year's Dine on the Line, which will put diners right on the border of Arkansas and Texas in downtown Texarkana.
Happening on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 3 p.m. onward, Dine on the Line invites the city to come down and break bread together for a Naaman's Championship BBQ dinner, a communal toast to the city at 6 p.m. and live music from The Moss Brothers Band. Better Block Texarkana will partner with the local Main Street group to bring "pop up" vendors to the street.
This family-friendly block party features activities for children, too, including sidewalk chalk drawing and a giant sand pit near Discovery Place Children's Museum.
The centerpiece will be the table seating that stretches along State Line Avenue from the Downtown Post Office to Broad Street. That's where people can enjoy the barbecue, plus desserts offered by local restaurant vendors. Some diners will eat on the Arkansas side of the table, others on the Texas side.
Although the attendance was roughly 600 people from about 900 tickets sold, last year's inaugural event was dampened by rainy weather. Given the bum weather, though, Main Street Texarkana officials see that as plenty successful and were heartened by the community turnout.
Local artists, downtown businesses and restaurants are among the vendors participating this year.
"Right now we have over 30 vendors that are signed up that will be selling a variety of things. Some of the vendors are actually downtown businesses that will be set up," said Ina McDowell, Main Street Texarkana executive director.
People can come on down and eat when they wish but the toast with everyone participating will happen at 6 p.m. They pulled that toast off last year, but the weather kept it from being what it was supposed to be.
"The idea of the toast is really just a toast to the cities and a chance to do that," said Lee Medley, Main Street Texarkana board president. "To me my favorite part of Dine on the Line is that idea that there's no better way to come together than to sit down and eat dinner together. That's the magic sauce, I guess. The toast is kind of an end cap to that."
He's excited about the Better Block open market with vendors. In the past, Better Block brought businesses to Broad Street for pop up shops to give people a sense of what it feels like to be in a busy downtown.
"We're bringing that in to Dine on the Line this year," Medley said.
They'll also put down temporary bike lanes with the Texas-side's rental bikes, giving people a chance to ride up and down the state line.
"A lot of it is about how do we influence people's imagination," Medley said, "how do we get people thinking about maybe not what downtown was but how we get them thinking about how it could be."
It's about creating a vision, said McDowell, this time near the U.S. Courthouse and down State Line Avenue. "The whole atmosphere of a public area, public space, and enjoying the full experience of what our downtown could be," she said.
Hollis Boyette, event organizer, said vendors include Painting with a Twist, Berridge Bikes, Bubblecraft Soapworks, Knock on Wood Vintage Supply Co., The Best Ditches of Texarkana, Scottie's Grill, Markham Farms, Balm and Honey, White's Glenwood House, Myrtle Springs Baptist Church, Silvermoon on Broad and more. Rockin WH Ranch will bring a chuckwagon. Pecan Point Brewing will serve beverages.
"Be the Blessing Bakery will be selling some bakery goods," Boyette said.
This year Dine on the Line starts earlier, giving people a chance to shop and eat.
"And then a fantastic band, The Moss Brothers," said McDowell about an event with plenty to do and see.
And while the barbecue dinner will be ready when the event starts, organizers want people to stick around for the toast, symbolic of two cities coming together.
To get tickets, visit the Main Street Texarkana Website. Tickets will be available at the gate if they're not sold out, but people are encouraged to get tickets in advance for Dine on the Line, which raises funds for Main Street Texarkana work to revitalize downtown.
(Tickets: $25, $10 for kids 12 and under, which includes admission and dinner. Get tickets via MainStreetTexarkana.org or call 903-792-7191.)