This spring will mark the sixth year of downtown Bedford’s 2nd Friday celebrations. This signature monthly event is the longest ongoing promotion to highlight both downtown businesses and local artisan culture (food, music, fine arts and craft). Local entrepreneurs and arts and civic organizations, along with a myriad of volunteers, have utilized this event to get both residents and visitors walking around town to experience the amazing variety of businesses and arts and culture events available year-round in the town of Bedford.
The local artisan culture has become the heartbeat and energy of downtown Bedford’s revitalization efforts. Downtown Bedford can now boast having 8 live performance venues, 27 artisan trail participants, 6 art galleries/exhibition spaces (representing over 50 area artists), 4 significant historic or cultural tourist destinations, 16 working artisan studios and over a dozen places to dine or have a cup of coffee. Currently, there are over 100 arts and culture events downtown each year.
Local entrepreneurs and arts and civic organizations have used the 2nd Friday event as the backdrop to celebrate this artisan growth and downtown revitalization by spotlighting local and regional artists, celebrating student art from county schools and as a showcase for regional and national juried exhibitions. Promoters of the 2nd Friday celebrations have also worked to get art in downtown restaurants, coffee houses and other businesses. These local entrepreneurs maintain collaborative and cross promotional relationships and have regular meetings for planning and strategy. 2nd Friday promoters like the Bower Center, The Electric Company Artists’ Co-op and Goose Creek Studio also send regular press releases about upcoming events resulting is consistent local and regional coverage about the vitality of downtown.
“The monthly celebrations have changed and evolved over the past years as the makeup of the town has changed,” say Sara Braaten, Director of the Bower Center. “But no less than three dozen downtown businesses, professional services and civic organizations have participated at various times during the past 5 years,” Braaten adds. Last year Bedford Main Street focused its efforts to get more non artisan businesses and the farmers market involved in the celebrations.
“We begin our sixth year strong with a slate of art, food and musical offerings that can rival any town in the region,” say Mitchell Bond of Goose Creek Studio and one of the initial organizers of the event.