A Letter from Maggie: The Heart of Ramblin' Roads

Like many downtowns in cities across the country, Downtown Arlington and over a dozen venue partners are launching a large-scale music festival this year. There are Big Ideas behind these music festivals – that a return to a more in-person world is not only cause for celebration but can be a safe one; cultural districts are unique destinations that can drive discovery of business (and vice versa); and collaboration raises awareness of a single brand while also providing a strong platform for celebrating individual voices.

As a city, Arlington is uniquely positioned to host this kind of comeback celebration. Our history includes a formidable icon – Arlington Music Hall and its predecessor, the Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue – whose proud reputation includes discovering dozens of superstars. Our school district, private schools and our higher education community have inspired generations of visual and performing artists through a curricular commitment that values the arts. Our homegrown love of live music manifested 13 years ago in the founding of the Levitt Pavilion Arlington, and more recently as our enthusiastic support of Texas Live! as the musical anchor within our entertainment district. Meanwhile, over the last decade or so in Downtown Arlington, more and more restaurants and pubs have followed the lead of J Gilligan's, JR Bentley's and Grease Monkey by including live music as part of their experience.

The inter-relationship between our non-profit and commercial performance venues, organizations and academic programs have not only significantly contributed to long-term economic growth but to community-building and a real pride of place.

Our continued confidence in this model is reflected in the research and our long-term planning strategies. In the City of Arlington’s Downtown Master Plan, for instance, research, community input and BID member feedback unanimously supported the goal of hosting more large-scale, arts festivals  and events in the heart of the city. The Downtown Arlington Work Plan, overseen by our Board to align with the Downtown Master Plan, specifically identifies the launch of an annual festival as an important economic development goal.

These are among the many reasons the State of Texas Music Office awarded the Music-Friendly Community designation to Arlington right in the middle of the pandemic. Clearly, they saw what we already know: music is an important part of our past, our present, and part of our successful way forward.

RRMF21As we began to envision our Big Idea music festival, we knew from the very beginning we did not want this event to take place in a single, large venue. This is part of the reason for the name “Ramblin’ Roads.” We want folks to understand they’ll be moving around our city, like a mini-road trip, discovering all these incredible gems: venues, talent, experiences, and Arlington-style hospitality.

As a non-profit organization, it is important to our organization for this festival to be self-sufficient with the ability to grow and improve overtime.  In addition to proceeds from ticket sales, our sponsors, media partners and other festival collaborators have blown us away with their enthusiasm and support! And our participating venues? They have been roll-up-your-sleeves amazing. 

The first year of any major festival is as much an experiment as it is an event. We have already learned so much from our major venue partners, the Levitt Pavilion, Arlington Music Hall and Texas Live! As we plan for our associated events, we couldn’t be more grateful for the leadership of The Franklin Imagine Group in envisioning our Gospel Brunch; BrandEra for bringing our Youth Talent Showcase to life; Brian Greene, Bob and Doug Callas, Cris Lofgren, and Aaron Mabry for their enthusiastic support of our Classic Car Show, and Kelley and the gang at Legal Draft for hosting the Urban Artisan Market. As part of the festival happenings!

On Sunday, July 25, the ticketing side of our website will go live, which means “Phase I” of our musical line-up will be announced. In the days following, we’ll release more of the line-up in our small venues. I really want you to be an insider to these announcements, as well as the continued-roll out of festival activities in the weeks ahead. There are three ways to do that:

•    Subscribe to receive Ramblin’ Roads Insider Info emails: ramblinroadsfest.com 
•    Follow @ramblinroadsfest on Instagram: instagram.com/ramblinroadsfest 
•    Follow @ramblinroadsfest on Facebook: facebook.com/RamblinRoadsFest 

Thank you for your support, and we’ll see you at Ramblin’ Roads!

Maggie Campbell, President and CEO
Downtown Arlington Management Corporation