The return of fair weather to Jacksonville marks the return of “Third Fridays on the Square,” a street festival held in the city’s Public Square.
The events, which will feature live music, vendors and other activities, will take place from 6-9 p.m. on the third Friday of each month from May to August, beginning this week.
“We want to draw people into the city and give back to the community,” event organizer Jeremie Harrison said. “We want to be a source of family fun that won’t break the bank and an introduction to Jacksonville small business.”
The first of the events, set for Friday, will mark a return from a hiatus longer than just during the colder months.
After it was first established in 2016, Jacksonville’s Third Friday was held again in 2017. Last year, however, the EF-3 tornado that hit the city in March changed plans for the community event.
“It just didn’t seem very fitting to have a big celebration going on as you are entering an area with so much devastation,” said Harrison.
Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith said that he is glad to see the city getting back to normalcy following the disorder of 2018.
“Our folks here had kind of a tough year,” Smith said. “It’s good to find an event like this that gives them a chance to relax.”
Harrison, who owns a construction service in Anniston and pastors Fellowship Church on the Jacksonville square, said the event faces an uphill battle after taking a year off.
“We’re trying to pick up steam after not having it last year,” Harrison said. “Our problem is no one realizes it’s happening yet. Consistency is key going forward.”
Harrison said about 20 artisans and vendors have already registered, and he hopes to draw more vendors, and attendees, as the community gets used to the event again.
Harrison was involved in the event in previous years through the Jacksonville Arts Council, but took charge of the planning task this year with some help from the city.
“I just volunteered, and the city let me,” Harrison said.
Smith said that the city was glad to let Harrison help bring the event back.
“We’ve had it in the past, and folks here always seemed to enjoy it,” Smith said. “It helps out a lot of the merchants here as well.”
In addition to vendors and live music from Calhoun County native Brandon Butler, Harrison said that on Friday Jacksonville’s square will be filled with numerous activities that kids can enjoy, including an inflatable bounce house. The center lane of the square will be blocked for foot traffic only during the event.
Harrison said sandwich shop Jimmy Johns will be at the event handing out sandwiches, while restaurants on the square will be offering specials during the event.