Reflecting on First Friday, the July shootings and all of the continuing meetings and discussions on whether to stop it, move it or replace it: One group just needs to be congratulated.
The Greater Augusta Arts Council has done an admirable job taking over the street festival and keeping it alive and active. Originally a festival developed to promote downtown retail merchants, especially artists, the festival has grown to encompass music, street vendors and food and beverage. There is no doubt that the growth of a very vibrant food and beverage industry is a direct outgrowth of First Friday.
Through all of this, the Greater Augusta Arts Council has kept everything moving along while working with a wide spread of stakeholders.
The bottom line of this whole debate is that the shootings did not happen during First Friday but after, and it is very doubtful any of the participants were even participating in First Friday.
What now needs to happen is for government and the seemingly endless downtown support groups to get in line behind and support the Greater Augusta Arts Council. Whether the event stays on Friday nights or changes to Saturday afternoons, these folks have a demonstrated history of conducting excellent events.
Let them do their work, and fully support their efforts.