Up to 30 businesses will open their doors on the first Friday of each month, between 6-9 p.m., in a mapped out and self-guided “art and culture walk” around Depot town and downtown Ypsilanti. And it’s free.
First Friday is a nationwide event that happens in cities all over the country on the first Friday of the month. First Friday is getting into its third year in Ypsilanti, and has grown exponentially.
The goal of this monthly event is to provide marketing for businesses in Ypsilanti, generate economic stimulus, and showcase the art and culture of the area, the First Friday website said. Each month has a different theme and April’s theme is Spring Awakening.
“Do you love Ypsi? Join us,” said Kayj Michelle, the head of planning for First Friday Ypsilanti and a WCC alumna. The organization has a firm belief in connecting and engaging the community in art, and with one another.
“We have the complete intention of building something that is inclusive with diversity that is respective of the Ypsilanti community,” Michelle said.
Each year, there are more venues and more people getting involved. Some businesses have used the First Friday as an opening, and it provides great access for the community, Michelle said.
There are a number of venues that are involved for the season starter. Cultivate Coffee and Taphouse Volunteer Coordinator Bekah Wallace said they opened their doors during the September 2015 First Friday.
“Cultivate is a non-profit coffee and taphouse partnered with other organizations in the community that donates all tips and proceeds to hunger relief in the community,” Wallace said.
Cultivate plans to partake every month this year. For April, they partnered with Go Ice Cream, and will be doing “Ice cream and beer floats.”
“First Friday helped us to connect to the community,” Wallace said. “It connects people with art, culture and creativity in an accessible way.”
22 North, a gallery on N. Huron Street, will also be part of April’s event and is participating for its second year.
“We work primarily with visual and performance artists, in the region, the I-75 corridor,” said Maggie Spencer, the curator of the gallery. Her parents, the owners of the gallery, live in Kentucky, but they bring artists from up I-75.
“Ypsilanti is such a community and you get to see new faces each time, but it’s great to feel a part of it,” Spencer said.
World of Rocks – a rock, gem, fossil and mineral shop – is also participating in the event.
“We will be doing kid-friendly experiments, like floating pumice, and wire-wrapping outside,” said Nikki St. Germain, a sales associate at World of Rocks.
The Rocket – a candy and novelty store – will be involved for their second year.
“We participate in the way we can,” said Paul Balcom, one of the owners of the store. First Friday stickers and T-shirts will be available for purchase at their store.
Bona Sera, one of the original venues of the event, will be returning for their third year.
More venues will be part of this event and will be posted at the end of March on the First Friday Ypsilanti website.