Buskers, rickshaws and more spice up Carbondale’s First Fridays

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – When Main Street art gallery owners and other businesses began noticing a void in the usual foot traffic during the Carbondale’s First Fridays art walk over the past year, rather than roll over they rolled up their sleeves.

The void had to do with the fact that some of the key players in Carbondale’s monthly celebration of the arts, including the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities gallery, had relocated from downtown to the new Third Street Center.

When more and more First Fridays events started happening at the new locale several blocks removed from Main Street, other Carbondale galleries and businesses noticed a marked decline in attendance.

But, after some brainstorming over the last several months, the new Carbondale First Fridays Coalition (FFC) has come up with some ideas to bring renewed vitality to the event and make it a more town-wide celebration.

The expanded First Fridays debuts tonight with several gallery exhibit openings and artist receptions between 6-8 p.m.

As part of the new marketing effort, there will be complimentary maps available indicating where different venues are located, expanded public parking, plus free bus shuttles and bicycle rickshaw rides to help people get from point to point.

In addition, there will be street performers, or buskers, at various locations around town to add to the festivities.

“A lot of people have stepped up to help make this happen,” Carbondale Chamber of Commerce director Sherri Harrison said during a presentation to the Carbondale town board this week. “We believe this can now be an ongoing, self-sufficient event.”

Harrison has been working with the FFC along with several town merchants, community leaders and tourism officials on a comprehensive marketing plan aimed at helping more businesses get in on the First Fridays action.

Different sponsorship levels allowed businesses and restaurants to be included on the maps, and the first 20 high-level sponsors were given advertising placards inside the shuttle buses to advertise their businesses.

The maps will highlight participating businesses and galleries along Main Street, the Third Street Center and on Highway 133. Two shuttle buses will run between those locations, along with the complimentary rickshaw rides.

A private property owner has agreed to allow the empty lot at the corner of Highway 133 and Colorado Avenue to be used for public parking, and as one of the shuttle stops.

“Our intention is to use First Fridays to highlight all that Carbondale offers,” Harmony Scott, FFC volunteer and owner of Harmony Scott Jewelry Design on Main Street, said in a press release sent out by organizers.

“By focusing on this event, we can build excitement and regional awareness of our great town that will hopefully spread beyond that one night of festivities,” she said.

According to the press release, “Street entertainers of all types and talents will be stationed at various locations throughout the community to entertain visitors and complement the other First Fridays activities.”