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First Friday returning to Wadsworth for a second year

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    121118Mainstreet01.jpg PHOTO BY TOM STUGMYER A hot air balloon prepares for liftoff during Main Street Wadsworths August 2018 First Friday event.

    Tom Stugmyer

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    121118Mainstreet02.jpg PHOTO BY TOM STUGMYER Attendees during the Star Wars-themed May the Fourth Be With You First Friday dress the part.

    Tom Stugmyer

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WADSWORTH — Main Street Wadsworth will uplift families again in 2019 — literally.

The popular First Friday monthly event series will return for a sophomore season next year and an event pegged around hot air balloon rides is on the upcoming slate of events. After a successful introductory year, the organization recently revealed plans to bring the community events back to the city.

“It was important to me that Wadsworth First Friday would be family-friendly, fun, and free,” Main Street Wadsworth Executive Director Adrianne Krauss said in an email. “I wanted to create a unique experience for visitors of all ages.”

2019 Main Street Wadsworth schedule
All events are in 5-9 p.m. in downtown Wadsworth.
  • Jan. 4, Winter “Bites;”
  • Feb. 1, Sweets Stroll;
  • March 1, Mardi Gras on Main Street;
  • April 5, Superheroes Unite;
  • May 3, Downtown Game Night;
  • June 7, First Responder Friday;
  • July 5, Art in the Alleys featuring Non-Profit Night;
  • Aug. 2, Around the World featuring Hot Air Balloons and the American Legion BBQ;
  • Sept. 6, Sports Night “wear your favorite team;”
  • Oct. 4, Pumpkin Spice Shop Hop;
  • Nov. 1, Wadsworth History and Hauntings;
  • Dec. 6, Candlelight Walk— Gingerbread Village.

Since introduced in January, thousands have descended upon Wadsworth’s historic downtown during the first Friday of every month between 5-9 p.m. for events ranging from “Pirate Palooza” to a “Wine, Cheese and Jazz Stroll.”

“Our highest-attended First Friday events saw between 1,500 and 2,500 people downtown, with some of the most popular themes being ‘May the Fourth Be With You’ in May and ‘Pirate Palooza’ in September,” Krauss said.

Main Street Wadsworth volunteer Tom Stugmyer said the organization’s goal is to bring people downtown to support the businesses there. In planning the events, everyone wanted to make sure the businesses would benefit.

“All the First Fridays, the one goal is to really leave the streets open so traffic can come through,” Stugmyer said. “As people are driving through they can stop and see what’s going on.”

ToastHeads Micro Bakery owner Steve Smalley said Tuesday that his business at 122 Watrusa Ave., has participated in First Friday since the initial January event.

“The First Friday program, when Adrianne (Krauss) implemented that, I know it was January of last year, downtown businesses had the opportunity to jump on board and me being new, I was like ‘absolutely I want to be a part of that,’ ” Smalley said.

Smalley said he has seen a steady increase of people coming downtown for the events, and at one point sold nearly 600 cookies in a three-hour time period.

“… We have been going strong ever since,” he said.

Krauss said between 20 and 30 businesses participate each month, with a mix of restaurants, retail and service providers such as local insurance providers joining in on the fun.

Krauss said she has learned a lot from talking with business owners and community members about what they would like to see in the future.

“I have learned that it’s important to introduce new things each month in order to keep First Friday fresh and exciting,” Krauss said. “We have to give people new reasons to come downtown each month or the event will become tired and stale.”

Krauss said thankfully the downtown businesses continue to provide creative offerings of live music, games and activities to enjoy.

“Our mission as Main Street Wadsworth is to create an unmatched downtown experience, and our downtown businesses and organization have really taken ownership of creating a wonderful downtown environment every First Friday,” Krauss said.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.
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