This is an inspiring story about how Lancaster’s success with their First Fridays event has inspired Harrisburg to follow suit. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Lancaster’s First Fridays event now involves 70 venues! This free event brings thousands into downtown Lancaster! This not only benefits the arts scene but all downtown businesses and restaurants. First Fridays runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every month, without exception! People come from as far away as Philadelphia and Baltimore! Franklin and Marshall College is the presenting sponsor of this event. As a side note, Franklin and Marshall has been instrumental in helping Lancaster with economic development!
While Lancaster has a larger population than Pottstown, it is also a very walkable city of only 7.40 square miles (land area). A year-round monthly event in downtown Pottstown could yield similar results that would benefit our emerging arts community and our downtown stores and restaurants. And maybe attract new ones.
Here is a link to Lancaster’s First Fridays event. Check out this map and list of venues: http://www.lancasterarts.com/_files/live/FirstFriday_Guide_2011_1st_Qtr_LArts.pdf
Some folks in Harrisburg had watched the success of Lancaster’s First Fridays. A year ago, three downtown business owners got together and started 3rd in the Burg. This idea has grown into a monthly event with up to 15 venues participating already! That is great for the first year!
The next 3rd in the Burg takes place on January 21st and will feature art, music and food from downtown to midtown! Nonna’s Delisioso! will feature a 3rd in the Burg dinner special. Nonna’s co-owner, Grace Diaz was quoted as saying, 3rd in the Burg has “introduced people from here and neighboring towns and cities to the revitalization that has taken place in our developing arts community.” Bingo!! What better way to entice people to come take a “look-see” than with the arts, food and music.
Participating businesses are experiencing increased sales and foot traffic at their locations. The event draws many people into downtown Harrisburg who would not ordinarily go there. Having multiple participants increases the public’s enthusiasm, creates a positive “buzz” and creates a snowball effect. The ball started out with three participants, now there are 15. As the momentum builds and the crowds increase, other merchants will take part in making the ball bigger. As shoppers stroll between participating merchants, they will pass other stores and restaurants along the way. I can bet you they will stop in those places as well.
The other part of the snowball effect is the arts community. As this event grows, it will inspire other artists to take part and possibly move to Harrisburg. Thereby increasing Harrisburg’s arts community and growing 3rd in the Burg further.
The desired result of 3rd in the Burg is to make Harrisburg a “destination” for the arts, shopping and dining. I give that two Roy’s Rants thumbs up!
Here is a link to 3rd in the Burg: http://3rdintheburg.com/