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East Texas is set to light up the nights with summer music festivals

With the icy storms, treacherous rains and sprinkles of hail, many communities across East Texas have either postponed their annual festivals or completely cancelled the traditional jubilees.

The Alley Fest, however, has survived the discrepant Texas weather. The Alley Fest has been a part of Longview’s heritage for 36 years. Taking place May 9-10 in downtown Longview, the yearly festival is famous for its emphasis on arts and family-oriented entertainment. While many travel to this event for the 5k Alley Run, others are packing coolers to sit and relax to the music. This year holds a specific emphasis on music that appeals to the traditional Texas taste of country, folk, southern blues and honkey-tonk.

“We have extended the music performances to keep going all day long,” says Kayla Cantey, Main Street manager of the Longview Chamber of Commerce. “We are going to make this year’s fest musically entertaining at any time of day. So, whenever somebody comes to hear … music, they’ve got it.”

Well-known performers are the hype of this year’s festival. Country singer and Dallas native Granger Smith and his alter-ego

Earl Dibbles, Jr. are to be featured on Saturday, May 10 as the final act at the two-day festival.

The line-up for additional performances will cast a spotlight on the up-and-coming and locally famous musicians from the Ark-La-Tex. The Matthew Davidson Band was established about an hour and a half northeast of Tyler, in Shreveport. This West Louisianan rock band is the second line-up for Friday afternoon, May 9.

“(The festival) is going to give a chance for more local performers to showcase their talents,” Cantey says.

The festival will also host a number of other events, including the Alley Run, children’s festival and displays of local art.

The Alley Fest kicks off Friday at noon and ends late Saturday evening in downtown Longview, May 9-10. Children under the age of 12 are granted free admission to all events. Tickets are $5 before 5 p.m. or $10 for after 5 p.m. Information for the Alley Fest can be found at longviewchamber.com/AlleyFest.

Hitting a little closer to home is a new festival that is as musical as it is tasty. On May 3, downtown Tyler introduces The Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival to the East Texas tradition. While 15 barbeque restaurants will entertain spectators’ taste buds with delectable smoked meats and beverages, bands from throughout the state of Texas will provide listeners with an assortment of their handiwork.

Texas country group, the Randy Rogers Band, a men’s ensemble from Cleburne, is headlining the event at 10 p.m. on Friday.

Other bands from across the state, including Tyler’s very own Whiskey Myers, will serenade the crowd beginning at 4:30.

The Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival will begin Friday, May 3 in downtown Tyler. General admission begins at 3 p.m. Admission for children under three is free and identification is required upon entrance. General admission is $45. For more information, check out the Red Dirt BBQ Festival’s website at reddirtbbqfest.com.

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