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First Friday to hold Tartan Fest

Jennifer Sprouse • Apr 4, 2013 at 10:47 PM

If you’ve got an affinity for kilts and bagpipes, tomorrow's First Friday event might be just for you.

Showcasing the first annual Johnson City Tartan Fest, representatives from East Tennessee State University will be on hand during First Friday festivities with the school’s newly selected tartan.

“(April 6), which is Saturday, is actually National Tartan Day,” Brandi Woodall, director of First Friday and the Blue Plum Festival, said. “It’s our first one (Tartan Fest), but we’ve got bagpipes by Jon Shell, who is an international bagpiper from Elizabethton. Around (7 p.m.), we’ve got a group based in Johnson City that does traditional Scottish Highland country dancing. We’re really excited about that.”

She said one returning element from March’s First Friday will be a drum circle, which will be held outside tonight in the 300 block of East Main Street.

Woodall said the drum circle last month was moved into Nelson Fine Art Gallery due to bad weather, but quickly became a crowd favorite.

“We still had well over 30 people show up for that,” she said. “Immediately, I started getting contacted by local drumming circles. We’re actually going to take it out on the street. I think the weather’s going to be great, so ... we’re kind of looking forward to that.”

Woodall said art galleries, including Nelson Fine Art, Slocumb Galleries and Tipton Gallery, as well as other merchants on Tipton and Spring streets, are known participants of First Friday.

She said Friday's event will host a couple of food and jewelry vendors, but said the focus of the monthly event is to showcase the downtown businesses and restaurants.

“I’m hoping if we build consistency, my goal is that people don’t look so much at the theme, that they just know it’s First Friday and they want to go downtown,” she said. “It (First Friday) is very arts driven. We want people to fall in love with downtown. We want to see downtown revitalization be a reality, and I think the way to do that is get people interested in downtown again. The more activities that we can put on the street to draw people in, the more people are going to want to come downtown.”

Streets in the downtown Johnson City area will start to be blocked off around 5 p.m.

First Friday was started by the Johnson City Development Authority a few years ago, as a family-friendly event.

“I would say, consistently, it’s been going on for about three years,” Woodall said. “This year, the first thing I started doing is creating a schedule and trying to plan things ahead of time. I think what people saw toward the end of last year is that you would see several hundred people downtown, so we just hope that it continues to grow.”

For more information about First Friday events and announcements, visit downtownjc.org or www.facebook.com/jcfirstfriday.

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