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June 22. 2013 2:47AM

Concord's Market Days expands its musical offerings this year

CONCORD -- What began as a simple sidewalk sale 39 years ago has blossomed into one of the state's largest hometown festivals. Concord's Market Days Festival will once again take over downtown of the Capital City offering 36 hours of free music, entertainment, kids activities and more than 150 vendors.

Kicking off Thursday to Saturday, July 18-20, this year's event promises to have larger attendance than last year, which saw about 50,000 people, according to Kim Murdoch, Market Days Festival director for InTown Concord, which hosts the annual event.

"Last year's Market Days Festival featured 35 bands in 50 performances at four music venues around the city all completely free to attend. This year, we've expanded the hours of music entertainment at the 'Local Food, Wine and Beer Tent,' so we suspect those numbers are likely to grow."

Some of the previous year's popular bands scheduled to return include Darlingside, The Dusty Gray Band, Holmes, and The Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki Trio. Festival programming and music runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily throughout the three-day festival, and attendees of all ages can circulate throughout downtown Concord, moving from shopping to dining to music and special programming. All Market Days Festival programs and musical performances are completely free to attend. The festival area encompasses Main Street from Centre/Bridge Street south to Hills Avenue and spills into Eagle Square, Bicentennial Square and the State House lawn.

According to Murdoch, there are certain crowd pleasers that come back to the festival each year.

ldquo;In recent years the 'Free Family Fun' activities on the State House lawn have been a huge hit with families. Kids have an opportunity to enjoy music, including performances this year by Grammy-nominated children's musician Judy Pancoast. There are ample opportunities to play games, create, run, learn, and have a wonderful time," she said. "These activities are scheduled at various times during the day; a full schedule will be available at intownconcord.org."

Throughout the day, children and adults can have a blast on the new expanse of inflatables (bouncy house activities) set to overtake City Plaza. Beyond the State House lawn and City Plaza, kids can enjoy community programming such as demonstrations by the Granite State Roller Derby and the Spank Alley Skate Team.

On Saturday, returning for a second year, the Concord Public Safety Foundation will present the "Fire Truck Pull," a competition in which teams of 10 face off against a 45,000-pound fire truck seeking the fastest pull time. Registration is available at concordpublicsafety.org.

For those looking to showcase their own talent, The Eagle Square venue will offer "Pitch Perfect," a singing competition as well as many amusing eating contests and a songwriting competition.

Those looking for festival food won't be disappointed, but there is also an abundance of healthier fare from places such as the Concord Food Co-op, which will have two locations in the festival.

New this year, Thursday night will feature a one-mile, downhill race that finishes in the heart of the Market Days Festival.

The family-friendly "Downtown Dash" will help raise money for cardiac charities and InTown Concord, whose mission is to promote and enhance the business environment, cultural activities, housing and appearance of historic downtown Concord. Registration information is available at ironheartjeremy.com.

To make way for all the fun and vendors, several downtown streets will be closed to vehicles. Pleasant Street and Pleasant Street Extension from State to Storrs Streets will be closed to vehicular traffic during the festival. Also closed will be Warren Street east of the Durgin Parking Garage entrance, Phenix Avenue, Capitol Street, and Park Street (though Park Street will be available for handicap parking). Handicap parking is also available in the Durgin Garage and Capital Commons Garage.

For more information and schedules, visit www.intownconcord.org/events/market-days, call 226-2150 or email marketdays@intownconcord.org.

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