By Shawn Byrne
Change can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be. The Town of Wickenburg’s conversion from a Saturday concert series to a First Friday festival-like atmosphere proved to be a worthy endeavor after the results of the Nov. 1 were scrutinized.
“We were extremely pleased with the attendance and with the vendors who came out to take advantage of their free spots,” said Economic Development Director Pamela Green. “They all brought wonderful wares and products out that the public was happy to see. We hope they had a lucrative night or at least got some exposure.”
Dan McCorison and the Steel Nickel Band was the headliner of the night, and the band entertained a crowd of about 200 folks, according to Recreation Coordinator Sarah Brown.
Several downtown businesses reported a robust night of sales and activity, and the Elks Lodge served 202 dinners and added eight new members to its rolls. Rusty Rooster, Twisted Dogwood, Serape Bleu and Carroll Trading Company told Green they had fabulous nights.
“We were really busy and everybody who came was really excited about the activities,” Serape Bleu’s Theresa Dunn told The Sun. “There were so many people walking around. We were so busy I couldn’t step out.”
Gerri Warren of Rusty Rooster, just up Tegner Street from Serape Bleu, had the same reaction.
“We had a pretty good First Friday,” Warren said. “We had good sales.”
Rusty Rooster’s Paula Lopez said people were still milling around when the doors were shut at about 7 p.m.
Mayor Rui Pereira and Town Council gave praise to the event during the Nov. 4 meeting. Green said they really supported the location in downtown and the shutting down of the streets. Those things were added elements to the ambience and vibe of the event, which is something the Town’s team is excited about.
One of the key components of First Fridays is highlighting a charity. The Nov. 1 charity was about supporting the Elks’ veterans programs. Donations were sought for travel- or regular-sized hygiene items, new T-shirts, socks, and underwear.
The next First Friday on Dec. 6 will highlight monetary donations to the “Cops Who Care” program. This charity helps to buy Christmas gifts for children who are in need.
An added component to the November First Friday was the way Rancho Bar 7 started playing its music just as the music from Dan McCorison and the Steel Nickel Band wrapped up.
“We very much want to tie into what local businesses are planning and willing to do,” Green said. “It’s not just what the Town is doing but really getting the businesses, restaurants and bars involved by giving them an opportunity by helping bring the masses out.”