Hundreds of people descended upon downtown Pine Bluff Saturday for an event unlike anything the city has ever seen. Dubbed “Pop Up in Pine Bluff,” the one-day festival sponsored by Pine Bluff Downtown Development featured food, craft beer, vendors, games and camaraderie — all in an effort to help revitalize a city hoping to find its way again.


“This is the best thing that has happened in Pine Bluff since I have been alive,” said Kelsey Roberts, 20, who drove from Conway to attend Saturday’s event. She’s a student at UCA but is from Pine Bluff. “I brought several friends with me to show them that Pine Bluff isn’t as bad as many people think it is.”


The event took place on Barraque Street between Pine and Walnut streets. Organizers hope that the event will be the catalyst for more business growth and development in the downtown area.


“Pop Up in the Bluff is a community development project led by Downtown Development and other community leaders,” according to a statement from Downtown Development.


“It is part of a nation-wide initiative called ‘The Better Block Project.’ When we look at our city, we see wonderful opportunities to work together and make our community a better place. During ‘Pop Ups,’ areas in the community that have been abandoned or underutilized will be filled with local vendors to demonstrate the potential these areas have. We hope that Pop Up in the Bluff will create a lasting change and help revitalize our community, one block at a time.”


Donna Alexander of Pine Bluff said she was skeptical when she first heard about the event. She said she wasn’t sure it would be well-attended but decided to attend to support her community.


“I was pleasant surprised by the turnout,” Alexander said. “You look around at all these people who love our community, it just makes you feel like we have a chance, you know?”


Pop Up in the Bluff dovetails with efforts that will soon begin through the Go Forward Pine Bluff initiative. One of the main aspects of Go Forward Pine Bluff is seeing a revitalized downtown that’s thriving with shops, entertainment, pedestrians and hotels.


Ryan Watley, CEO of GFPB, has said that efforts such as the pop up event Saturday are vital to Go Forward’s efforts.


“We must all work together for one common goal, and that’s improving the quality of life in Pine Bluff,” he said.