Mid-Missouri artists, performers featured in First Friday Arts Stroll

The streets of downtown Jefferson City will be teeming with creative people the evening of May 2, as the First Friday Arts Stroll gets underway.

Scheduled for the first Friday of every month through September (with the exception of July) the strolls are designed to celebrate the contributions of Mid-Missouri’s visual and performing artists, said organizer Jill Snodgrass, a partner at the Daily Plan-It.

Snodgrass said the plan is to gather street performers, musicians, visual artists, dancers, actors and other creative personalities downtown, in hopes of attracting even more supporters to the area’s businesses and restaurants. The even will be in the 100 and 200 blocks of East High Street and the 100 block of Madison Street.

The space will be closed to traffic between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Parking after 5 p.m. is free downtown.

The May 2 stroll also coincides with the kickoff of Lincoln University’s new downtown Farmer’s Market. Other Mid-Missourians who sell unique, handmade produces — such as produce, cheese, honey and soap — are invited to set up booths. Culinary chefs are also invited to participate on Fridays, Snodgrass added.

And, the Jefferson City Symphony Orchestra will perform, she said.

The kernel for the idea was last year’s Arts Live Weekend. Last year, that three-day event started with live musical performances on Thursday, followed by a downtown arts stroll on Friday and Capital Jazzfest. Chalk artists decorated the streets.

As the Thursday night musical performances in June and September grew in popularity — last year hundreds of celebrants were attracted downtown — Snodgrass said the First Friday Art Strolls hope to build on that success and temper it.

“It’s a similar model, but we wanted something more family-friendly,” Snodgrass said. “We want it to have a low-key vibe.”

A temporary open container district will be in effect within the event’s boundaries, which means visitors over age 21 can purchase a $2 wristband and cup, and purchase adult beverages during the strolls.

Instead of a central stage, the performing artists will be spread out along three blocks, she said.

Attending the event is free, Snodgrass said. Participating as an artist is free, too, but artists who want to do so must register at www.planetreg.com/ArtsStroll.

“Pre-registration is mandatory for planning purposes,” she said.

The primary requirement is that whatever participants do, it must be art-related; no mass-produced items are allowed.

The intersection of Madison and High will be a “theater in the round” venue with a small sound system and bleacher seating.

“We wanted it to be really organic, that’s why there’s no admission fees,” she said. “Hopefully everybody will be working for the greater good of the arts community to make this arts festival successful.”

Once people are downtown, Snodgrass is hopeful they will do a little shopping, have a bite to eat or order a beverage at one of area’s restaurants and bars. To facilitate that, many of the artists will be paired with downtown businesses. For example, an opera troupe will perform at Madison’s Cafe.

As of late last week, about 19 artists were planning to participate on May 2.

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