First Friday celebrates 10 years this month
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- This month's First Friday event in downtown Las Vegas' 18bArts District is very special -- it is the event's 10th anniversary.
The popular arts and music street festival was founded by three women -- Cindy Funkhouser, Julie Brewer and Naomi Arin. The first event took place Oct. 4, 2002.
In the beginning, First Friday only attracted a few hundred people each month. It wasn't until 2005 that the event began to grow and now it attracts thousands of people each month.
The city of Las Vegas became involved at about that time and began to help support it financially.
Mayor Oscar Goodman once said that First Friday was "the best thing that ever happened to Las Vegas."
However, it was only able to do so for a few years before it was forced to reduce the amount of money that it spent on the event.
First Friday was put on hiatus in August of 2011 due to lack of funding and that is when Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh stepped in.
Hsieh bought the First Friday trademark in September 2011 and took over the event.
Since the investor group led by Hsieh took over, the festival has once again expanded and features more artists and musicians.
In March of this year, First Friday paid homage to the popular Burning Man Festival and held its first public burn. A 20-foot-wooden showgirl named Lucy was lit on fire as thousands of people watched.
However, funding remains a challenge and just this week, a new non-profit foundation -- the First Friday Foundation Las Vegas -- was established to help spread the word about First Friday beyond the monthly event and to provide support for local artists.
Festivities to celebrate the 10-year anniversary actually began on Thursday with pumpkin decorating and will continue tonight.
In addition to the usual assortment of artists displaying their work, live performances on three stages, food trucks and vendors, a few special activities and events have been planned.
The First Friday's Kids Zone will be open from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at 1213 S. Casino Center Blvd. Pumpkins that were decorated by downtown businesses will be on view and the winners of the 2nd annual Pumpkins Mean Business decorating contest will be announced at 8:30 p.m..
Animals from the non-profit Roos-n-More's exotic animals will also be on display at the Kids Zone.
Work by finalists in the Downtown Project competition will also be on display at The Hub, located at the intersection of Casino Center and Colorado.
Two of the winners of the competition will perform at 7 p.m. and the contest's Grand Prize winner will be announced at 9 p.m..
The Get Back Alley, between Sixth Street and Las Vegas Boulevard, will host free painting lessons from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and 9 to 10:30 p.m. by Social Paintbrush.