Friday After 5 has wrapped up its 23rd season on the Owensboro Riverfront but board member Kirk Kirkpatrick said officials are already working on next year’s season.
Because of a “fluke” in the calendar, Friday After 5 will host 17 Friday events next year rather than the usual 16.
Starting the Friday after the International Bar-B-Q Festival and running through Sept. 4, 2020, Kirkpatrick said the greatest addition to next year’s FA5 will be the Owensboro Bridge being lit.
“This will be incredible — like turning on our front porch lights for the entire region,” Kirkpatrick said.
The 2019 Friday After 5 season was among one of the best, according to Kirkpatrick who said that of the 16 Fridays, 14 of them were able to be held outside, thanks to the weather cooperating.
With the addition of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum adding free movies on five of the Friday nights, Kirkpatrick said it was the first time that Owensboro had a “mile of music” in downtown Owensboro.
“So many [downtown] restaurants added music on their own this year,” Kirkpatrick said.
And, with the launch of the Entertainment District, where patrons of downtown bars and restaurants can carry alcoholic drinks while strolling in most downtown locations, attendees did not have to throw away a drink or finish it before moving on, which Kirkpatrick said was an added convenience.
“There have been almost 400 Friday After 5 [events] and no serious incident,” Kirkpatrick said in support of the attendees and The District.
Kirkpatrick said that a large part of the success was the out-of-town visitors who attended FA5 events. Because the concert series isn’t a ticketed event, the number of attendees can’t be counted. There also is not a specific way to tell how many attendees are from out of town, but when people are posing for pictures in the red frame, of which there are hundreds each week, Kirkpatrick said the people are asked where they are from and at least one in six or seven is from out of town.
Part of the reason people are coming to Owensboro for this event is because Visit Owensboro gave the nonprofit a grant to promote Friday After 5 outside of the region.
Sponsors play a large part in the success of the event by contributing to various stages, programs and music funding. Kirkpatrick said sponsors outside of Owensboro, including national sponsors like Walmart and Kroger, asking to be part of the event is very satisfying.
“We are a nonprofit entity who is creating events the community can enjoy,” Kirkpatrick said, adding that sometimes the impact it has on a portion of the Owensboro community is forgotten.
Kirkpatrick said that board members are often approached and thanked for the free community event and told how a family vacation is unaffordable, but that attending Friday After 5, where kids can get free balloon animals and other themed items is a vacation for those families.
“Those types of comments remind us how important the nights are,” Kirkpatrick said. “Every event has to meet the four F’s — Fun, Free, Family and Friends.”
The street fair portion of the event that hosts food trucks and vendors also has space available for nonprofits to use to gain exposure by the thousands throughout the season.
Class preunions — an event the day before a high school class reunion — have also become popular during Friday After 5.
“Saturday night [when the class reunion is held] is great to tell stories,” Kirkpatrick said. “But on Friday night, you can enjoy the river, bring your family and have no agenda.”
For next season, Kirkpatrick said he would like to encourage new sponsors and new volunteers to help with the weekly events. All sponsorships for 2019 had sold out by March, and he anticipates the same for 2020.
Without volunteers, the season would not be possible, and although the board does not ask a tremendous amount of work from its volunteers, everyone does have a role, he said.
Kirkpatrick said he wants people to get involved, especially younger people, who can connect to sponsors and the community and then take what they have learned and connect with other boards in the Owensboro community.
“We are already looking forward to next year,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s fun to see several hundred people enjoying themselves and know you had a part in that.”
More information about volunteering, sponsorship and class preunions can be found at the Friday After 5 website.