By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
First Friday is returning to downtown Gadsden on September 4.
After cancelling abruptly in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the area’s favorite monthly attraction is back to bring entertainment and enjoyment to Etowah County.
First Friday began in January 2006 when the Stone Market (then located on Court Street) owner Sylvia Smith cultivated a plan to attract visitors to downtown Gadsden to shop and dine. From that first initial gathering 14 years ago, First Friday evolved and expanded into the beloved monthly event it is today. With a mission to provide a safe, family-friendly atmosphere for people to enjoy all that downtown Gadsden has to offer, visitors are drawn to First Friday from all across the southeast.
“We have one of the largest gatherings of classic cars around,” said Downtown Gadsden, Inc. Director Kay Moore. “People continue to enjoy coming and looking at the cars, listening to the live entertainment, and meeting with friends just to reminisce about the good old days. The shops and restaurants are filled with people (pre-COVID) as they enjoy a fun time in downtown Gadsden.”
Four different bands will entertain listeners with music at varying locations on September’s First Friday. Cross Camp Cowboy Band will perform at 2nd and Broad, Damascus Road Band will perform at 3rd and Broad, Matt Harvey Band will perform at 4th and Broad and Foggy Hollow Band sets up its stage at 5th and Broad.
With so much to offer visitors and tourists alike, Moore described the community’s response to First Friday’s return.
“There has been considerable excitement that we will be having First Friday in September,” said Moore. “But there are also concerns that people will not follow the State and CDC guidelines and that people could get sick. We are strongly recommending that all guidelines be followed – mask up, social distance by staying six feet away from non-family members, and wash your hands frequently. If we have people that will not follow the guidelines, we may not be able to have First Friday again until 2021.”
Moore noted that signs will be displayed reminding people to wear masks, social distance and wash their hands. DGI will also provide more than 1,000 masks if attendants forget their own, and hand sanitizing stations will be available in each block. While Moore wants everyone to have a great time at First Friday, she hopes that visitors will follow the guidelines implemented for their own protection and the preservation of others.
“I love seeing people gather and have a good time enjoying our downtown,” said Moore. “I love to see the merchants and restaurants busy! I love to talk to people visiting from other areas to find out why they like to come – but I really enjoy it when people come back to visit, shop and eat after they have been to First Friday.
“I hope that the community realizes how important it is to support our downtown merchants and restaurants, our museums and art galleries and other businesses downtown. First Friday is a great reminder that our downtown is here and ready to serve them!”