More and more businesses are participating in First Friday events in downtown Elkins.
Six restaurants will join the mix this weekend as Elkins ON TRAC welcomes Davis & Elkins College students to dine downtown. The restaurants will accept vouchers from the college for student meals.
Hometown Cafe, located on the corner of Henry Avenue and Third Street, is not usually open in the evenings. Co-owner Jessica Plum said the restaurant wanted to be part of the event, so she will open the restaurant from 5 to 7 p.m. with a special menu of baked chicken and other homemade items.
Another favorite breakfast and lunch spot, the Kissel Stop, also will be open for dinner Friday. The restaurant on Third Street will offer live music by the local band, "Cusique."
Other participating restaurants include Beander's, CJ Maggie's, Jabberwock and Papa John's.
ON TRAC Promotion Committee Chair Mike Ellis said businesses had been looking for a way to engage students in the downtown community for a long time.
"The idea to invite them downtown for dinner seemed like a good place to start," he said.
Ellis said Scott Goddard, vice president for Student Affairs at D&E, discussed the idea at a recent committee meeting, and Goddard was pleased with the committee's interest and outreach to students.
"There is a real desire to have D&E students and more of a D&E presence in downtown Elkins," he said.
Goddard said the college is committed to providing opportunities for students to experience the local community. He will continue working with the committee to plan downtown activities in conjunction with First Friday events when students return to campus in the fall.
Other businesses will stay open from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday to welcome students and other customers with refreshments or special activities.
Artists at Work will offer a free "Make It and Take It" bookmark class with artist Joy Cooper. Snacks will also be provided for guests while they browse the AAW gallery. Elkins Sewing Center will have a free Mother's Day project and Ceramics with Class will provide a painting activity, also free of charge.
A new First Friday participant, Good Energy Foods, will serve free organic coffee and cookies during the event. Sewing for the Season also will take part in the event and will provide a free formal gown fitting.
ON TRAC Project Manager Karen Carper said the First Friday format has been a great boost to downtown activity.
"It's been the perfect event to start small and grow a little more each month," she said. "With the weather getting better every day, we are looking forward to planning some outdoor activities in the near future."
First Friday is the name given to public events held in cities all over the country on the first Friday of each month. Many focus on art and music, or offer special activities to encourage social interaction. All the events are dedicated to celebrating the unique qualities of host communities.
Elkins ON TRAC initiated First Friday events in partnership with Artists at Work in July 2012.
For more information on First Friday events or the downtown revitalization project, anyone interested can find Elkins ON TRAC on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.