There are multiple concerns involving First Friday in downtown Augusta.
First, there is the special tax that was implemented to cover the cost of the Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative. Then there is the concern of underage teens getting out of hand. Next, there is the issue of organization – in other words, who’s in charge?
Maybe this is the time to totally revamp the downtown venue, perhaps redefining the entire entertainment perspective altogether. How about something like the “Downtown Entertainment District”? Within this specified district will be certain codes of conduct and policies pertaining to cleanliness standards, pets, dress code, vendors, law enforcement, entertainment and any other elements that apply. If you are going to play host to an event in the downtown area that could attract, say, hundreds of people, including children and handicapped people, then why wouldn’t you block off the streets except for emergency vehicles, and arrange crowd control ropes?
What about a fee for all vendors selling merchandise downtown? The fees collected could go to the Downtown Development Authority as a means of offsetting project costs.
Instead of First Friday, how about First Saturday, which would begin with the Farmer’s Market followed by family entertainment? And yes, there needs to be attractions for kids and teens. If properly organized on Saturdays, we could have an event that is dynamic in scope; prosperous to the city and business owners; and, not least of all, essential in establishing our city as the next oasis of the South in terms of tourism.
What do you think of a First Sunday event in the south Augusta area? This could feed off of the success of First Saturday and provide a safe and exciting event for those citizens on the other side of town who are not inclined to go downtown, and who probably would appreciate an organized family event on a Sunday afternoon, and on their side of town.
Also, by having an event in south Augusta on Sunday, this could draw citizens from, say, Wrens, Burke County, Swainsboro, Beech Island and other areas. All family events would have organized attractions for young and old, adequate security, welcomed vendors etc. You enforce a reasonable dress code – i.e., no saggy pants, no bandannas or any clothing resembling gang affiliations; no pets; and no outside liquor consumption.
This letter is but a suggestive overview for family-oriented activities that we could easily carry out. How about an annual Third Sunday Back-to-School Blast!