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Inaugural music festival to hit the street near UNLV

Roddy Belford has three days to prove to a neighborhood that community has its place among it.

Belford knows it will take more to make the area around UNLV a social hub, but he’s about to kick off his mission with a party.

The Maryland Parkway Music Festival is planned for Friday through Sunday at venues around the “university district” of Paradise. The free event will feature music, art, poetry and demonstrations exhibits, performances and vendors.

Belford, a former UNLV student and 37-year Las Vegas resident, is the event’s founder and said he’s had “this little bug in my head for 10 years now.

He said the impetus of the idea stems from an interview with developer Michael Saltman. In the subsequent article, Saltman described his vision for a bustling “Midtown UNLV” of Las Vegas.

“Traditionally, in other parts of the country, the university areas are the hub of culture,” Belford said. “Here, we have different places for culture: Fremont (Street) East, the Arts District. Why not help bring up the area around UNLV?”

The Maryland Parkway Music Festival honors its namesake street and its many attractions and businesses. The festival is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. Friday with a concert in the parking lot behind the Promenade building, 4440 S. Maryland Parkway. Festivities continue from 12-3 p.m. Saturday at Sam Ash Music, 2747 S. Maryland Parkway. Events culminate in a street fair-esque festival from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday on Harmon Avenue near Maryland Parkway.

Belford is making a little Las Vegas history, he said : It is the first time Harmon Avenue will be closed to an event, according to a Clark County official.

Belford received the county’s blessing when he started planning the festival in January.

He was quick to get local businesses on board, too .

Mustang Clothing Xchange , 4800 S. Maryland Parkway, Unit J, is teaming up with neighbor and fellow thrift store the Buffalo Exchange, 4110 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 1, to host a fashion show during the festival.

The stores are two of many area second-hand or vintage shops that have potential to be a sought-after cluster of businesses if conditions were better, said Norma Tashoy, purchasing manager for Mustang Xchange.

She likened the stores’ potential to Melrose Avenue, a go-to area for shopping in Los Angeles.

“I want to see everyone do well,” she said. “We need an area people can go to.”

Mustang Xchange will have a booth at the Sunday street fair to bring attention to her business. Tashoy said she talks to her business neighbors about their struggles in drawing regular customers.

“This used to be the happening area,” she said. “Now it’s downtrodden. We need a lot of help in this area.”

Aside from an economic downtown, Belford said he believes UNLV’s reputation as a commuter school and lack of knowledge have hurt Maryland Parkway.

“Kids go to school and go home,” he said. “There are ethnic restaurants, companies that cater to students that aren’t well known. We have to highlight them.”

Belford met with his inspiration, Saltman, about his festival plans. Saltman, president of the Vista Group, helped draft a master plan in the 1970s for “Midtown UNLV,” with pedestrian-friendly shopping, dining, educational and entertainment developments and housing to “ensure long-term economic vitality.”

“I have this vision that is going to eventually bring town and gown together,” he said. “It’s going to be an organic process.”

Saltman said the economy has been a major stumbling point to bringing the project to life.

He pegged Belford’s efforts and the Maryland Parkway Music Festival as a possible tipping point to getting work under way.

“I’m hoping Roddy can draw a lot of people,” he said. “It’s a great thing. Let’s hope it’s a lot of fun.”

Vendors, volunteers and sponsors are still needed. For more information, call 648-8051 or visit marylandparkwaymusic
festival.com .

Contact Centennial and Paradise/Downtown View reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@viewnews.com or 477-3839.

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