First Friday invites you to explore downtown Dayton while at home

Brand new to the UD area is Tend & Flourish, a unique boutique featuring bath and body products, wellness products, handmade craft items and art pieces. This shop is open just in time for the holiday season and stocked full of great gift items for all of the people on your list.

The first Friday of each month is celebrated by the entire downtown Dayton community, with art hops, all kinds of entertainment and restaurant specials. In April, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, which spearheads the First Friday festivities, switched to a virtual experience to continue supporting downtown's arts and culture.

“We were very happy with how our first virtual First Friday turned out because we fulfilled what we saw as our two main objectives,” said Allison Swanson, public relations and marketing manager for the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

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“First, it introduced people in the area to something they might not have known was available in downtown Dayton. Second, we continued to support our small business owners and local artists, which is so crucial at this point in time when businesses are either forced to be closed from their physical storefronts, or are working in a completely different capacity with takeout and delivery,” Swanson said.

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Although downtown Dayton’s treasured galleries, restaurants, bars, shops, and eclectic businesses are closed, the First Friday tradition is proceeding today, April 3, with the first ever virtual “Stay at Home” edition. CONTRIBUTED

The Partnership did make some changes for May's First Friday, which is again a virtual experience. This time, they wanted to make the event more focused on a particular subject, so this month's feature is on the arts. They're also trying to make the experience more engaging, so they've been seeking ways for people to bring "live" experiences to people's homes.

“The arts have always played an important role in the culture and entertainment of downtown Dayton,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “So over the past weeks we’ve brought together key art organizations and asked them to participate in our virtual First Friday.”

One example is the live art opening being hosted by tend&flourish — an entrepreneurial collective of local women-owned art and wellness businesses — on its Facebook page. The unique art experience, entitled "Meet Me Home: An Art and Poetry Exhibit," will showcase the talents of artist Marsha Pippenger and poet Aimee Noel, both of Dayton. Pippenger is a visual artist, specializing in collage. Noel is a poet and teacher at Tippecanoe High School in Tipp City.

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The event, which will run from 7 to 10 p.m., will be split into two parts, with the first being dedicated to the art and poetry exhibit and the latter portion, beginning at 9 p.m., that will feature a musical performance by Novena, a folk-rock band from Dayton, and a fire-dancing performance by Jess Fecke.

Some other examples of live experiences planned for May 1 include the Dayton Society of Artists opening reception for "Intertwined," which will be live on Facebook. Jonathan McNeal from The Neon is giving a behind-the-scenes tour of the theater.

Organizers are hoping to give people experiences that they wouldn’t have been able to experience if it was a normal night out on the town for First Friday.

Jonathan McNeal

The downtown Dayton arts and small business community hopes you'll schedule a "virtual date" with friends and family to interact with the Virtual First Friday together, while apart. Whether it's ordering takeout from a restaurant, shopping from local retailers, exploring galleries, museums, or watching musicians perform from home, there is still much to experience downtown this Friday.

For the full list of activities scheduled for May 1, click here.

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