On the first Friday of every month of the year, downtown Marietta hosts First Fridays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. coordinated by local nonprofit Marietta Main Street. Highlights of these events include shops open late, local artists and musicians, area organizations, and various happenings tied into the theme of the First Friday.

Coordinated by Marietta Main Street’s Promotions Committee, each First Friday is a celebration of the local Marietta community and an opportunity for locals, tourists, and area groups to show their support for the town, have fun, and enjoy the beauty of vibrant, historic downtown Marietta.

“In 2020 we are uplifting the fourth year of First Friday events downtown,” said Interim Executive Director Cristie Thomas. “Since launch in 2016, we’ve seen First Fridays grow to be a cornerstone of the quality of life in our town. Folks of all generations, interests, and purposes head downtown and fill the streets looking for new friends, fun activities, and new merchandise in our downtown shops to take home.”

The first First Friday featured hand-carved sculptures placed throughout downtown.

First Fridays first kicked off when Hulu series The Small Business Revolution came to Marietta to interview business owners and local leaders about being a finalist in the nationwide small-town competition. While Marietta only came in eighth place of 14,000 nominations, the spirit of supporting local has continued.

“Over the past four years, our downtown retail occupancy rate has increased which is a true sign of economic vitality. Not only are we seeing an increase in small businesses in our downtown, but the businesses that are opening their doors are meeting the interests of our current consumer market,” said Thomas.

Jeremiah’s Coffee House hosted local musicians during winter First Fridays.

Jocelyn Adelsperger, Office Manager at Jeremiah’s Coffee House, said their team loves the vibe of First Fridays downtown. “Our crew loves greeting the happy customers and playing along with the creative themes each month,” she said. “It’s a great way to support Marietta Main Street and help give back to the downtown community we love!”

Marietta Main Street is excited to announce its themes for 2020’s First Fridays this month. A handful of themes have remained the same to continue building on fan favorites while new themes have been introduced to keep First Fridays fresh for the community to enjoy.

A sculpture of an Eagle, carved by Tyson Whistler, in front of American Flags and Poles.

January’s Fire & Ice Festival kicks off the New Year featuring a tour of ice sculptures carved by local artist Tyson Whistler. February continues with a theme inspired by Valentine’s Day. March welcomes a brand new theme, Shamrock & Roll, inviting area musicians to perform inside shops for a downtown music walk.

April’s theme is also new, uplifting the popular Easter candy Peeps with a Downtown Peep Show. Shoppers during April’s First Friday will get to view sculptures made by Peeps and vote on their favorite. The next four months will bring familiar themes to downtown starting with a Garden Party (May) and continuing through the summer with Art Walks each month (June, July, and August).

The Marietta Derby took place during May’s Garden-themed First Friday and raised funds for local nonprofits.

September celebrates schools back in session with a Back to School Bash while October is once again a Fall Fest with fall-inspired activities at the Armory and in downtown shops. November’s theme is new, Community Harvest, and downtown businesses will work together to coordinate a community-wide food drive. December closes 2020 with the biggest First Friday of the year, Moonlight Madness, with shops open extra late until 11 p.m. for the holiday season.

Laura Pytlik, Owner of Wit & Whimzy and a volunteer on the Promotions Committee, is looking forward to new themes, as well as returning favorites. “I love the Fire and Ice because it has already become a tradition and it lends a bit of magic to the post-holiday gloom,” said Pytlik. “I’m really looking forward to the Peep Show because I hope to partner with a student group and let their creativity rule!”

Shoppers inside of Wit & Whimzy during January’s First Friday.

“When shoppers support small businesses and when our community invests in our downtown, our local economy is strengthened and our quality of life increases,” said Thomas. Part of Marietta Main Street’s mission is to advocate for the economic power of supporting small, locally-owned businesses. According to Civic Economics, for every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $68 stays in the community compared with only $43 spent at a national chain. Additionally, local businesses support local events, sports teams, charities and more an average of 250% more than big corporations.

“Truly one of the best ways to strengthen our community is to support downtown and to spend our money with local businesses,” said Thomas. “When we shop local, we’re supporting our neighbors, encouraging entrepreneurs, and contributing to our local tax base in higher amounts than if we shop at big box stores.”

Shoppers gather in front of Emleigh’s & Mama B’s shop on Front Street during a First Friday.

With the launch of 2020 First Friday themes, Main Street also announce a variety of sponsorship opportunities for each month. Area businesses who want to champion the growth of Marietta and the Mid-Ohio Valley as well as have their business in front of thousands of area residents and visitors are encouraged to reach out for more information.

To learn more about 2020 First Friday themes and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.mariettamainstreet.org.