As First Friday enters its 10th year in downtown Sarnia, the cultural walkabout has a new lease on life, says Mike Cole of Storyboard Solutions’ marketing team.
The local company recently took responsibility for administering First Friday’s website, its monthly magazine and liaising with local retailers, bar owners, and restaurateurs to rebuild momentum for the event.
First Fridays are the result of a group of merchants and artists who brainstormed in 2006 about ways to set downtown apart from other shopping districts.
Anyone who visits the core area on the First Friday of each month can expect a variety of bands, art shows, dancing, and other special events. In good weather or bad, the streets are generally filled with hundreds of people well into the night.
But, like many long-term projects, interest began to lag among merchants this year and First Friday needed new energy, said Cole.
“People loyally come out but we want to offer them more,” he said. “The more there is to do, the more excited they’re going to be.”
Storyboard Solutions is now producing the First Friday magazine and distributing at least 1,000 copies a minimum of 10 days prior to the event. That means a commitment from the downtown business community to confirm their First Friday activities a month in advance, said Cole.
“We think we can get people into the habit, especially when they see that more people will be downtown.”
Storyboard Solutions is owned by a group of local professionals who love downtown and work there, Cole added.
“We are committed to making First Friday a success.”
This weekend’s First Friday (Nov. 4) promises lots to do in the core area. Here’s the list as of press time:
TRINITY LOUNGE 146 Christina St. North: See four bands/entertainers for $8 ticket fee. Acoustic set by Stephie J. Madsen at 9 p.m., The House Coats rock it at 9:30 p.m., The Rapids take over at 10:30 p.m. , followed by The Down River Band from 11:30p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The Bad Gilligans perform downstairs in The Pub.
CHEEKY MONKEY 130 Christina St. North: An evening of lighthearted live music with new local band called Wild Cards with Renee Card, Scott Vegh, Sara Campbell and Gerry Hawley performs 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Also show and sale with painter Bill Walters. 130 Christina St. North: An evening of lighthearted live music with new local band called Wild Cards with Renee Card, Scott Vegh, Sara Campbell and Gerry Hawley performs 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Also show and sale with painter Bill Walters.
ONE TOOTH ACTIVEWEAR 155 Front St.: “4 Friends” will be selling their homemade mittens with proceeds to Sarnia Lambton Community Living.
JUDITH & NORMAN ALIX ART GALLERY 147 Lochiel St.: Opening for new show called Leading the Way: Early Canadian Women Artists.
ESBY & SOPH 155 Front St.: Anniversary celebration with artist Kristin of KHR Creative. Prizes, munchies 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
ARTOPIA GALLERY & FRAMING 188 Christina St. North: In conversation with wood and stone sculptor Bill Stewart. 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
THE LAWRENCE HOUSE 127 Christina St. South: Art exhibit by the Lambton College Arts Collective featuring drawing, painting, photography, poetry and pottery by students and teachers. Also After Hours Poets host Spoken Word in the Turret Room, honouring college instructor Carmen Ziolkowski.
IMPERIAL THEATRE 168 Christina St. North: Artist Karen Schaw’s show and sale of her oil and acrylic paintings in the Lawton Gallery.
DNA MEDIA 141 Christina St. North: Studio owner Adam Miner displays his neo-expressionist paintings from his toxiCAN show, including one of Gord Downie from the last Hip concert. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
The Arts Journal appears every week with local cultural highlights. Got an idea? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.