By: Kyle Whitecotton
| photography by Alex Lepe |
Ackmann is the chairman of the Festivals and Events Committee for Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives, Inc., the producers of MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival and the Fort Worth Parade of Lights. She has served as chairman for the past two years with seven years total service to the Festivals and Events Committee. Ackmann has also served as a board member on the Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. Board of Directors for five years.
This is an especially busy time for Ackmann as the MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival, the largest in the Southwest, is returning to Downtown Fort Worth for its 29th year on April 10-13. The festival spans more than 27 blocks and showcases 213 hand-selected juried artists, a free music festival, culinary delights, family-friendly activities, and more, promising four days of fun and an economic engine that generates more than $27 million in overall dollars.
“The most enjoyable part is seeing it all come together when the festival opens – starting on Thursday when businesspeople come out of their offices and stroll down Main Street to enjoy the art, music and food and continuing throughout the four days as the crowds grow,” Ackmann says.
Andy Taft, Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. president, describes Ackmann as a calm and steadying voice at the table or in the field. “When opinions and passions diverge, Marilyn has a way of bringing everyone together. Sometimes it’s a well-placed question. Other times it’s an astute observation. She’s a leader who understands multiple perspectives and finds common ground.”
This event would not happen without its hundreds of volunteers, Ackmann says. “There is a core group of volunteers that serves as our event management team, many of whom have done this for years and take vacation time to devote an entire week to working behind the scenes to pull this event together. They work tirelessly with very little recognition. So to the volunteer force, I would like to say, ‘Thank you!’”
Jay Downie, CFEE Producer, MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival and XTO Energy Parade of Lights, says he has relied on Ackmann’s leadership and advice throughout her tenure, both as committee member and as chair of the Festivals and Events Advisory Committee. “She has a vested interest in Downtown and the events we produce and has continually emphasized how important both MAIN ST. and the XTO Energy Parade of Lights are to our entire community.
“Marilyn’s interest in the volunteers who serve on our Event Management Team is unsurpassed and has organized incredible recognition events for those who have given so much of their time to make our events a success,” Downie said.
Sponsors are key to the event’s overall success. Downie says that Ackmann understands the business community and has been instrumental in bringing local corporations to the table.
Ackmann’s “day job” is manager of public affairs for Atmos Energy. She has been employed with the company for a total of 25 years, the past 14 of which have been in Fort Worth.
In addition to her extensive involvement with DFWI, other community organizations in which she’s active include serving on the board of directors for Tarrant Literacy Coalition, Senior Citizens Services of Tarrant County (previously served as chairman), Fort Worth South, Inc., and Northeast Tarrant Chamber of Commerce. Ackmann served as a board member and executive committee member of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce in 2010-2011.
“The MAIN ST. festival has become the city’s most beloved annual event,” Ackmann says. “Even more importantly, it continues to fulfill its original purpose of changing perspectives and enhancing the quality of life of Downtown Fort Worth. We are very excited this year to have everything back on Main Street and look forward to the new look and feel that the new Sundance Square Plaza will give to the festival.”
By: Kyle Whitecotton