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F1rst Friday: A taste of downtown
F1rst Friday, featuring "A taste of the Downtown" and "A Thirst for the Arts," begins Friday at 5:30 p.m

Taste of the Downtown
   The following businesses will offer food samples from a sponsored restaurant.

Free Spirit Pottery – Pizza Hut                                                               
West Main Gallery – Christopher’s
Pladd Dot Music – Gnat’s Landing
Bark in the Boro – Snooky’s
Gallery of Frame – Kbob Kelly’s
Doodle Bugs – El Sombrero
Lori Grice Photography – Statesboro Inn
Yard & Haus – Sugar Magnolia Bakery and Market
Chop’s Restaurantat – Chop’s Restaurant
Abbigail’s – Manny’s Neighborhood Grille
Bellies & Babies – Ellis Meat Mkt. & Catering
Paper Doll – Ellis Meat Mkt. & Catering
Children’s Cottage Consignment Shop – Shoney’s
Impressions – Subway
Galactic Comics and Games – Dairy Queen
Josephine’s – Quality Inn Catering

    Strap on your taste buds, head to downtown Statesboro and get ready to sample the fare as the Downtown Development Authority adds a little twist to this month's First Friday festivities.
    Dubbed "A Taste of the Downtown," 18 local restaurants are partnering with downtown retailers for a progressive appetizer evening. During the event, each business will highlight one of the well-known local eateries giving visitors a chance to taste samples and pick up discount coupons as well. For just $5, ticket holders will be able to try appetizers at each of the 18 stops.
    Allen Muldrew, director of the DDA, said the idea came up during a recent meeting with the downtown merchants.
    "We wanted our First Fridays to be more meaningful so we looked to see what the merchants would like to do," Muldrew said. "So we said, 'What is something fun that will get people in the door, check out the store and give them a little perk at the same time?'" Lisa Lee, the owner of Doodlebugs who's been operating on East Main for six years, said the event helps expose new people to the downtown experience.
    "First Friday is a great way to bring people downtown and get people that might not normally come downtown to see what we have to offer," Lee said. "Plus it's a great way to get people in every business - getting people walking up and down the street."
    Yard & Haus co-owner Todd Branyon, who's been downtown for nearly three years, likes the change of pace of a progressive appetizer evening.
    "We're a big believer in First Friday and we try to do anything we can to keep it entertaining for the people coming down because we want First Fridays to work," Branyon said. "The more things there are for people to do and the more they enjoy it, the more they're going to come back."
    Also during First Friday, Georgia Southern's Fashion Presentation and Promotion class will host "Thirst for the Arts," a charity art show where GSU students will display and sell their unique artworks, giving part of the proceeds to Water Projects International. The art displays will be set up on the Bulloch County courthouse lawn and on Siebald Street, just west of the Averitt Center for the Arts.
    WPI is a non-profit Water Projects International is a non-profit organization focused on bringing clean safe drinking water to impoverished areas of the world, working in remote locations of developing nations where access to water is very limited.  They work primarily in locations where the local people must walk two or more hours in order to get water.  According to Matt Ferrell, the Vice President of WPI, "our main goal is to drill water wells in regions where the local people will benefit in a way which will decrease their time spent daily in the process of gathering water."
    Ticket holders that visit all 18 participating downtown businesses will eligible for a raffle drawing to be held at 7:15 p.m. with prizes ranging from gift certificates to framed works of art. Tickets, which are only $5, are available at the Averitt Center offices Thursday and Friday, or available at the information tent to be located on the courthouse lawn Friday evening.
    Phil Boyum may be reached at (912) 489-9454.
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