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Heard on Hurd festival brings life to downtown Edmond each month

Jill Castilla, Citizen's Bank of Edmond president and CEO, is the guiding force behind Heard on Hurd. Castilla stands downtown, where the street festival takes place. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN]

Jill Castilla, Citizen's Bank of Edmond president and CEO, is the guiding force behind Heard on Hurd. Castilla stands downtown, where the street festival takes place. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN]

EDMOND — Heard on Hurd, Edmond's popular community street festival, started its third year in March and continues to grow every month.

Last year, the monthly festival hosted by Citizens Bank of Edmond, brought more than 100,000 people to downtown and generated $2.6 million for the local community.

It is from 6 to 10 p.m. every third Saturday from March through October at Broadway and Hurd. The festival is home to local music, food trucks and pop-up shops.

Heard on Hurd started in September 2014 and attracted about 3,000 people the first month.

“We expected at first to get 400 or 500 people because we wanted the food trucks to make money,” said Jill Castilla, Citizens Bank of Edmond president and CEO. “All the food trucks sold out their food and said it was one of their best nights ever. It exceeded all of our expectations.”

In March 2013, the bank decided to close three of its Edmond branches, leaving the 115-year-old bank with its two downtown locations.

“At that time, we started talking about some type of local musical festival in downtown Edmond,” Castilla said. “We had been talking for a long time on doing something.”

Bank officials patterned Heard on Hurd on a monthly festival sponsored by a Michigan bank.

Heard on Hurd is a big commitment for the bank staffers who plan, organize and put on the monthly festival. It costs the bank about $70,000 a season.

“None of us were prepared on how successful it was going to be,” Castilla said. “At the time, we only had two blocks that were blocked off, and we have expanded.

“It is a great community feel and showcases how special downtown Edmond is, and hopefully, more brick and mortars will open.”

Wide appeal

The festival is drawing people from across the metro area, partly because social media helps spread the word.

“I was overwhelmed with joy the first time,” Castilla said. “So many people were coming up to us and telling us they were thankful that we were having this community block party and coming together with our neighbors.”

City officials and police support Heard on Hurd. They are talking about putting electrical outlets throughout downtown so the food trucks won't have to use the loud electrical generators.

There is no talk of Heard on Herd ending. But there are discussions about making it better, maybe adding films to the festival.

“We don't put on this festival so we can get loans and deposits,” Castilla said. “It is just about your community and celebrating that.”

Jazz Lab

Community entertainment happens more than once a month in Edmond. Music is available almost nightly at the University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Lab, Fifth Street and Littler Avenue.

“Almost no nights are dark,” said Edmond Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell, a regular visitor of the Jazz Lab. “The tickets are affordable. You can eat and have a glass of wine. There are all types of performances.”

The Jazz Lab is designed to educate, entertain and create. It is an education facility for the jazz studies program, a community-focused live music venue and a place to learn, write and record music.

Jazz Lab was a dream of former UCO President Roger Webb. Developer Mark Neighbors donated the land at Littler and Fifth through the UCO Foundation.

Partnering with Hideaway Pizza was an ideal fit for a jazz lab. Audiences could eat pizza and enjoy beverages while listening to jazz and other entertainment such as blues, pop, country, bluegrass, ethnic, classical and even a taste of Broadway.

Some people would like to see the addition of a performing arts center in the downtown-University of Central Oklahoma area. UCO officials have suggested partnering with the city of Edmond.

The future

Edmond voters on April 5 approved extending an existing 1-cent general fund tax and continuing a half-cent sales tax for capital improvements for 10 years.

A 21-member citizens task force, chaired by Castilla, worked for 17 weeks to determine if Edmond voters should extend the sales tax and what capital improvements should be paid for with the half-cent tax.

One recommendation is the revitalization of downtown, which might include a new library, a parking garage and a new performing arts center in partnership with UCO.

Neither extension would increase the city's 8.25 percent sales tax rate. The state gets 4.50 percent, and the city receives the remaining 3.75 percent.

The task force list of projects was evaluated on community need, ability to decrease leakage to other municipalities, ability to increase sales tax revenue, opportunity to leverage return on investment through partnerships and marketability, Castilla said.

Mayor Charles Lamb said plans for a partnership to construct a performing arts center are in the beginning stages.

Diana Baldwin

Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote the original stories about the... Read more ›