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Troy welcomes Mumford stopover

The Mumford and Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Tour officially starts tonight, but the party kicked off Thursday night with music from regional acts filling streets decked out for the much-anticipated celebration.

Troy put its best mustache forward for the event expected to draw 40,000 music and festival fans.

Nearly every downtown business displayed an image of the band, the tour or/and a mustache, a symbol of the Grammy- Award winning English folk rock act.

Troy Memorial Stadium gates open for the Gentlemen of the Road mainstage at 4 p.m. with the first act starting at 6 p.m. Two-day passport tickets are $120 at the gate.

Downtown street fair music starts at 10.30 a.m. Admission is free with Gentlemen of the Road passport tickets. It is $5 per day for those without passport tickets.

There are 40 food vendors and several restaurants and other businesses set up shop outdoors Thursday. Favorite treats from the Strawberry Festival, including chocolate covered strawberries from the American Legion and strawberry doughnuts from Troy High School Marching Band , were for sale.

Steve McLain and his wife Margaret Begg, owners of Bakehouse Bread and Cookie Company, decorated their windows with mustache-shaped bread.

“I am confident, as are a lot of people, that it is going to mean a huge, huge boost in national exposure, a boost for merchants downtown and elsewhere,” McLain said. “The last six months, the (city) has been buzzing with anticipation, and that only intensified as we have gotten closer to the date, and here we are.”

Fans flocked in from six countries and 48 states, packing streets and downtown restaurants and bars, including The Caroline where co-owner Melanie Elsass-Smith donned a homemade mustache earring and necklace set. About 10,000 fans camped out Thursday..

Erica McGrath of Pittsburgh has followed Mumford and Sons since hearing “Sigh No More,” the group’s debut album, two years ago.

“I was hooked. It was awesome,” McGrath said. She’s at the festival with her mother Reyne Jabloski.

Amy Knight drove two hours from Cambridge, Ohio to attend the show .

“The sound is universal,” she said of Mumford and Sons music. “It is just good music.”

Karin Manovich, executive director of Troy Main Street Inc., said the weekend-long festivities have helped put Troy on the map. Music lovers are expected to spend $20 million during the stopover.

“It has been a huge economic impact,” she said. “It is a huge marketing opportunity for Troy as a city and downtown in particular.”

Troy is a well-kept secret that now has a chance in the spotlight, she said, noting that many people — including some from surrounding communities — are not familiar with Troy or its eclectic downtown.

Laurie Winans Reiser of Winans Chocolates and Coffees invested thousands in improvements to her business in the months leading up to the festival. She called the festival a game changer.

“What I didn’t expect is how close it has brought the community,” she said.

Al Mescher, a Troy resident most of his life, has not seen as much excitement in the city since Elvis played Troy in 1956.

He lived in Versailles at the time and missed the Elvis show. Mescher and his wife volunteered for the Mumford-related festivities.

“This is fantastic,” Mescher said. “We just wanted to see it.”

Sisters Lauren and Lindsey Holloway of West Virginia are camping for the festival.

The sisters stopped by Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffees on Thursday afternoon, and said they were impressed with Troy.

“It’s a neat little town and I like it a lot, ” Lauren Holloway said.

Diana Scheib, co-owner of Expressions of the Home, said the festival changed the city for the better.

“I think it kind of raises the bar,” she said.

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