November 3, 2006
It's a new start for a downtown tradition. First Friday with some new leadership.
The team, hand-picked by Augusta's city administrator, wasted no time setting ground rules for vendors.
Business owners are glad to see this crackdown.
Vendors are now required to show a pass. If they don't have one, they can't sell on Broad Street.
"Personally, this is the way I like to do events and the way the Arts Council likes to do events," said Brenda Durant of the Greater Arts Council.
That way, Durant says, is organized.
Durant is one of a handful of team members chosen to make sure the last of the First Fridays of 2006 are successful.
Her first idea was vendor passes. They're given to store owners to then give to vendors they approve selling in front of their stores.
"That's a good idea, because I don't want just anybody sitting here, because what goes on in front of here represents me," said Silla Cafe owner Felton Mitchell.
Store owners have also been encouraged to fill out First Friday questionnaires.
Mr. Mitchell agreed to complete his on camera.
One of his answers was in response to the hours of operation.
"I understand the time frame during the winter season, but I think it should be extended during the spring and fall," he said.
It's input like this the temporary team of organizers is wanting to hear, whether it be about the type of merchandise being sold or how much of a police presence store owners think is necessary.
"This is not something that's being hijacked, stolen, moved, shifted, changed drastically without everyone having a voice," Durant said. "So I think that's very important for people to have a voice."
Under the new guidelines, vendors were required to close up shop at 10 p.m.
So far, so good...vendors are following the rules.
We only have one more First Friday left in 2006, but it appears that these rules will be enforced next year as well.
The event will change hands in 2007, but if it ain't broke, why fix it?
The rules were very effective tonight.