Originally created 11/06/02

A happy medium



With police out in force and outdoor vendors and bands denied access, the Augusta First Friday festival was a lot tamer this month than last. The question is, was Broad Street too tame?

Did the event go from the extreme of too much rowdiness in October to too little life in November?

It depends on whom you talk to. Some downtown merchants and visitors were pleased with this month's sedate version, contending that it more closely resembled First Friday's original intent before it turned into a monthly fun-fest: to display the talents of local artisans on Artists' Row.

Others countered that the event wasn't just stripped down, it was knocked dead. Which side one was on depended on perspective. Businesses like Nacho Mama's and Blue Sky Kitchen, which court livelier customers, were financially hurt by what co-owner Matt Flynn might call Slow Friday.

More conservative businesses, including some of the art galleries, feel they benefited from the scaled back festivities.

At some points during the evening there seemed to be more police on the streets than visitors. If a heavy law-enforcement presence can be maintained each month, there would appear to be plenty of room to pump more life back into the event.

Don't forget that October's rowdiness - street punks invading downtown - came two hours after the event closed up shop at 10 p.m. The invaders were a late-night crowd, not a First Friday crowd.

It's the night owls who need heavy policing. Don't let the rowdies ruin the fun for the early crowd.

Chris Naylor, executive director of Main Street Augusta, which sponsors the event, is on the right track. He says a happy medium needs to be struck - and they'll continue to strive for it, but it probably means more experimentation in the months ahead.

We're confident the right First Friday formula will eventually be found.