Fans of First Friday won't have to wait a whole month to get their fix of downtown establishments.
"3rd Saturday," a collaboration among 21 bars, restaurants and retail shops, kicks off at noon Saturday and runs until 2 a.m. Sunday.
The event features discounts and specials at some of downtown's most popular bars and lounges and is meant to capitalize on the spike in business that typically accompanies First Friday, organizers said.
Soul Bar owner Coco Rubio, one of the driving forces behind the evening, said the idea has been kicking around for a long time.
"Downtown owners wanted to do something similar to First Friday but on another date, and the third Saturday just seemed like the logical time to do it," he said. "It's a coordinated effort to let people know we're down here all the time."
The event is similar to one held in May after the Garden City Music Festival, when music fans could pay one price and gain admittance to concerts that evening. On 3rd Saturday, many of the venues that played host to bands in May will offer specials on drinks, food and services to showcase their specialties.
Hal Tiki will feature $1 off all specialty tropical drinks. The Bee's Knees will feature $3 mojitos and mint juleps, and Nacho Mama's will feature $2 house margaritas.
But it's not a pub crawl.
Holy Cow! Creamery, Lokal Loudness and Tire City Potters are offering discounts, and the Hang Nail Gallery, D. Timm's and Mocha Delites also are offering nonalcoholic perks.
Mr. Rubio said the pub crawl concept was resisted by sponsors who are helping with publicity.
3rd Saturday is the first event commissioned by the new Downtown Augusta Community Alliance, an informal group of businesses and individuals interested in promoting downtown. Mr. Rubio said he hopes to add more retail establishments for future events.
"Most of us are friends and we work together, so we just kind of feel we can kind of organize ourselves," he said.
Chris Naylor, the executive director of Main Street Augusta, said he expects 3rd Saturday to complement, not compete with, First Friday. With its closed-off streets, outdoor performances and vendors, First Friday is more energy-intensive than 3rd Saturday.
"Staffing an event of that magnitude isn't easy, so it's very difficult to do another night," Mr. Naylor said. "It's great that the merchants have taken the initiative to take this on."
The trick, he said, is to keep downtown a welcoming place.
"What we've learned from First Friday is we want people to feel secure, and we try to clean up as best we can before people come down," Mr. Naylor said. "Absolutely, it's time for events on other weekends."
Mr. Rubio hopes teamwork between businesses will keep downtown's revitalization moving forward.
"The way First Friday is, it's grown to such an event, it's going to be good no matter what," he said. "It's a fabulous event; we just said why not have another one? We're trying to fill up the month with things to do."
Reach Patrick Verel at (706) 823-3332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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