Augusta’s First Friday is back tonight with more security and added events.
It’s been a month since a shooting had some questioning the festival’s future. But Westobou Festival organizers partnered with downtown businesses and the Friends with Benefits Fund to plan a free family-friendly area and a nighttime concert to complement the downtown First Friday where vendors set up and downtown businesses stay open late.
Festival planners have launched Westobou ticket sales in recent years at August’s First Friday. But in the wake of recent violence, they see a bigger opportunity.
“We saw something that had turned into a problem and kind of took on the mantra that problems can be opportunities, and saw it as a great opportunity to promote the festival and help show our support for downtown,” said Mary Hull Palmer, Westobou's marketing and event coordinator.
Palmer said they’re planning more events for next month’s First Friday.
City leaders and business owners have been talking since July’s First Friday about security downtown and whether the event should continue. Six people were wounded in a shooting after the July event ended.
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has said they will step up patrols and curfew enforcement.