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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

First Friday transforms Downtown Bryan into ‘Austin for a night’

A+dog+greets+customers+at+The+Frame+Gallery+in+Bryan%2C+TX+on+Tuesday%2C+Jan.+17th%2C+2023.
Photo by Mary Howard

A dog greets customers at The Frame Gallery in Bryan, TX on Tuesday, Jan. 17th, 2023.

What started as a small business owner combining her love of art and her husband’s jazz band quickly turned into a monthly event that draws in thousands of locals and students alike.

With Main Street blocked off from traffic, the monthly First Friday event in Downtown Bryan spotlights local art, artists and nonprofits plus offers a night full of free live music and interactive entertainment. Pop-up farmer’s market stalls vie for attention amid dozens of locally owned bars, eateries, art and antique shops, according to Destination Bryan event organizers. 

Downtown turns into “Austin for a night” and is the perfect way to start off the month for business owners, owner of Bird’s Nest Gifts and Antiques, Robin Kinney, said.

“Every First Friday, new people find us,” Kinney said. “And if they like us, they’re gonna come back. It’s a big thing for people out of town — they’re always very intrigued by our First Friday.”

The crowd is a mix of locals and students of Texas A&M that really brings the community together, with business owners from Main to 26th Street reporting an influx of people for the family friendly event, Amanda Kile, tourism event coordinator for Downtown Bryan, said. Previous events have hosted live woodcarvers and Flamenco dancers, as well as a surprise Michael Jackson impersonator — crowd favorites — noted Kile.

“One of the goals is to make First Friday a different experience every single time,” Kile said. “You can’t say that if you’ve been once, you’ve seen it all.”

Started by Greta Watkins, founder and former owner of The Frame Gallery, First Friday was simply a few musicians and Watkins herself showing off their artwork. Now, the event draws in anywhere between 2,000 to 8,000 people per month.

Chrissy Sayers, manager at Bird’s Nest, said the now recognized Texas Cultural District has been transformed since 2005 when boarded up storefronts made parts of downtown resemble a ghost town. Now downtown boasts the highest concentration of unique and locally owned shops and restaurants in Bryan-College Station, according to DestinationBryan.com.

“Downtown Bryan is the soul of the city,” Sayers said. “It’s the soul of Bryan, Texas and this is where it all started.”

For free park and ride shuttle service from Blinn College to Downtown Bryan, and other parking information, visit DestinationBryan.com.

Cara Hudson is a journalism sophomore and contributed this article from Journalism 203: Media Writing I to The Battalion

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