‘First Fridays’ Aims to Enliven Downtown Haverhill Each Month

Local poet Susan Lafortune reads an original poem as part of the River Bards Poetry Open Mic night at Battle Grounds Coffee Company. (Courtesy photograph.)

pay for newsFirst Fridays, a new initiative featuring night time store openings, walking tours and entertainment in downtown Haverhill, kicks off Friday, May 5.

Creative Haverhill, responsible for the Riverfront Cultural District, plans to have local businesses, artists and performers create a monthly event to encourage shopping, dining and the arts, while showcasing the “rejuvenation” of downtown Haverhill.

“Downtown shops and restaurants have agreed to have their doors open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., every First Friday,” said Jenny Arndt, Creative Haverhill’s arts and culture coordinator. “Many will be providing live entertainment, discounts and offers and other special pop-up activities in their spaces,” she added.

Even vacant spaces may come to life later this summer, she said, when local artists are paired with empty windows to display artwork in what is being called a “Street Art Gallery.”

As its name implies, First Fridays take place the first Friday of each month through October in the Cultural District triangle of Washington Street, Railroad Square and Essex Street.

During the kickoff, participants will be able to purchase local art and handmade goods at the Haverhill Art Market Boutique pop-up shop on Wingate Street and the Ashley Hamilton Photography Exhibit at the Artist Cafe! Also, as part of the inaugural O+ Festival, festivities will include an artist talk with muralist Brian Canty and a viewing of the Aids Memorial Quilt on Merrimack Street. Battle Grounds Coffee Company offers its River Bards Poetry Open Mic night and Giving Tree Yoga and Wellness presents a mini wellness festival. Arndt provides a guided walking tour of downtown public art. A full listing of events may be found at www.firstfridayshaverhill.com.