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First Fridays coming back to downtown Macon

After a nearly two-year run in downtown Macon, Friday Fest is out and First Friday is back.

In October 2010, NewTown Macon changed the First Friday event to Friday Fest. The goal was to make every Friday downtown like First Friday, which took place for several years in downtown on the first Friday of each month and featured live music, relaxed open alcohol container rules and special offers at downtown businesses.

Some business owners have complained that making the event weekly rather than monthly took away some of its luster.

In an effort to “preserve the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding Friday nights downtown, First Fridays are back,” according to a NewTown news release.

“We have received dozens of requests from business owners as well as patrons to make the switch to stronger First Fridays,” NewTown CEO Mike Ford said in the release. “The community asked and we responded.

“First Friday has been a successful program for downtown Macon, and we look forward to bringing it back bigger and better than ever,” Ford said.

First Friday will resume Sept. 7.

Macon restaurateur Cesare Mammarella said the change should help some, but he’s not sure how much.

“Any restaurant owner who looks at their numbers know that First Fridays had slowed down anyway ... Friday Fest was an attempt to inject it,” said Mammarella, who owns downtown establishments Tic Toc Room, Dolce Vita Cafe & Bar, Bearfoot Tavern and Asylum nightclub.

“The downtown clientèle is not what it used to be,” he said.

Bringing First Friday back “should help a little, but it will not get back to what it used to be,” Mammarella said Tuesday.

When NewTown made the switch to Friday Fest, Macon City Council adopted an ordinance allowing patrons to carry open alcohol containers downtown on Fridays.

That ordinance will not change, NewTown’s Kris Hattaway said.

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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