Downtown Bryan

After kicking off the fall semester, students can leave their stress behind and enjoy First Friday in Historic Downtown Bryan – either in person or through virtual attractions.

The free event on Sept. 4 has been bringing the community together for almost 15 years through art and history, said Katelyn Brown, interim executive director of Downtown Bryan Association. For college students, downtown Bryan adds to the quality of life outside of campus, offering locally owned places to dine, shop and play, added Brown.

Prior to COVID-19, First Friday was exclusively an in-person evening event. After moving fully online in April, the event now is a hybrid where visitors take virtual tours, enjoy live streamed concerts and shop online or they can visit in person while following social distancing guidelines, said Brown.

“We have had a lot of virtual content that we have been putting on our website and Facebook page — coloring sheets for kiddos, walking tours of historical buildings in town, art in downtown — educating the community on how to support the businesses,” said Brown.

This month, the Brazos Valley Farmers Market will have local farmers selling fresh foods on Main Street, and in the evening, local musicians Joey McGee and Magic Girl will perform, said Brown. Because of COVID-19, Downtown Bryan Association now streams all concerts through Facebook Live so visitors can watch at any time, said Brown.

Greta Watkins, owner of Frame Gallery and nicknamed “Mother of First Friday,” said she started the event in 2005 to bring attention to her business. Construction from the city’s master plan to redevelop the area made it hard for customers to know she was open, said Watkins. First Friday quickly took off, and now includes all Downtown businesses, she said.

First Friday also shows visitors what Downtown Bryan has to offer, said Watkins.

Downtown’s culture and diversity are a story that is worth sharing with the public, said John Friebele, executive director of Destination Bryan.

“[Downtown Bryan] is unlike anything else within the state, region or even the nation,” said Friebele.

For more information about First Friday, visit DowntownBryan.com.

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