UPDATED: First Thursday could expand to include entire downtown square

Pending City Council approval, First Thursday Fayetteville officials will be able to close all four streets around the downtown square between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month.

Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Update: This ordinance passed 8-0 during Tuesday night’s meeting.

City officials and organizers of First Thursday Fayetteville are once again looking to double the footprint of the monthly event on the downtown square.

If their proposal is approved by the City Council, all streets around the square will be closed from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month.

In the early stages of the event’s history, only East Avenue was allowed to be closed during First Thursday. Last March, the City Council authorized the closure of Mountain Street, but officials say continued success of the event has created a need for even more space.

“It’s that success that has brought us to you today,” said Lindsley Smith, the city’s communications director, at last week’s City Council agenda-setting session. “There has been a lot of growth and expansion and (the added space) is essentially needed.”

Early last season, First Thursday officials added an expanded beer garden, a children’s area, and a performance stage to the event which already featured over 30 artist booths on East Avenue. By the end of the year, nearly 60 artists filled the authorized area and had poured over into the Town Center plaza.

Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Ferrell said as long as the business owners were in favor of closing the remainder of the square, he was on board. “I don’t have a problem with it if all the merchants are happy,” he said.

Tanner Montgomery, who manages the Fayetteville Visitor’s Center and the First Thursday event, said he’d so far not heard from any downtown merchants who were against the idea.

Montgomery recently distributed information packs (Example PDF) to area business owners asking for input and signatures of those who’d like to see an expanded First Thursday.

Included in a stack of signatures collected were the names of representatives for Riffraff Boutique, David Adams Fine Jewelers, Tiny Tim’s Pizza, Damgoode Pies, and several others.

Montgomery said if more space is granted, he hopes to add an expanded Kid’s Zone, and increase the street artist count to 100 per month.

The council will consider the proposal during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday night, March 6, inside City Hall room 219.