Maryville Downtown Improvement Organization (MDIO) has its feet on the ground and has taken off running to improve the downtown district.

MDIO became a reality in 2015, after talks in 2014 about establishing the entity. It is now part of Missouri Main Street, an organization that helps cities promote older main street and downtown business areas.

The organization has acquired 501c3 status, which makes donations tax deductible.

MDIO’s biggest accomplishment so far, said Matt Gaarder, president, is bringing the Saturday farmers market to the parking lot at Fourth and Buchanan Streets. The group approached the Maryville Host Lions Club to take on the market as a service project.

By purchasing a lot in the 200 block of North Main, MDIO is hoping to establish a pocket park for downtown. The project is taking longer than Gaarder hoped because there have been difficulties purchasing an adjacent lot on the corner.

MDIO members are also working on placing wayfinding signs around the downtown area indicating areas of interest and the three free municipal parking lots.

A GoFundMe account has been opened to seek donations for holiday decorations. MDIO members would like to order the new decorations, which will last for several seasons, before September 1. To make a donation, visit Gaarder said this fundraising approach has been used successfully by other main street organizations.

Keith Winge, Missouri Main Street executive director, introduced the idea for a new downtown event called Glitz & Glam. The event, to be held Thursday, September 15 is a ladies night-out and has also been successful in other communities. It will be the first major MDIO fundraiser.

Amy Strough, organization committee chair, is organizing the event which will begin with a social hour at 6 pm, at the Maryville Country Club. Social hour is followed by dinner with celebrity waiters and a piccadilly auction. Tickets are limited to 96 people.

“Each live auction item is given a bid value ranging from 25¢ to $4,” said Strough. “Ladies who wish to bid, simply toss the correct bid amount into the can at the center of the table and hold up their bid number. If their bid number is drawn, they have won. However, if their number was drawn and they opted not to bid, another number is drawn until a winner is reached.” The actual value of the auction items may range from $20 to several hundred dollars.

MDIO’s “goal is to improve and enhance downtown, not only visibly, but culturally and economically,” said Strough.

In the future, the organization wants to hire a director on a part-time basis. This person would work on projects and grants, something Gaarder said is difficult for the volunteer board members to do.

“I’ve been excited to see groups like Maryville Public Arts Committee planning events downtown, plus the upcoming cruise nights,” he said. “It’s awesome to see this energy and excitement about downtown.”

For more information, visit Maryville Downtown Improvement Organization, Inc. on Facebook.