Final Friday started as a small block party last summer, and grew into a big celebration of a neighborhood and local business. John McCaskill, owner of Megafauna and co-founder of the series, says the idea for Final Friday was born from the need to grow his local business through local events. And local remains a theme for Final Friday, a music walk and bazaar that kicks off its second season tonight in the the up-and-coming River North neighborhood. On the last Friday of every month through August, bands will fill five stages throughout the area, and businesses will keep their doors open, some offering discounts to those with tickets to the music walk.
"We started doing weekly and monthly events at the shop for local artists, and one of those efforts started leading itself into providing awareness of local music as well," McCaskill explains. "We really viewed music as being the best common spot for the public to come and share their support without having the airs around art that sometimes happen around art galleries."
McCaskill and co-founder Leif Sunde found most of the musicians for Final Friday through word of mouth. They started with the connections they made through Megafauna, and the project kept growing.
Last year was the first for Final Friday, and the founders soon found the major challenge with an event like this, with so many businesses ready to open their doors to the neighborhood, is maintaining the focus and brand of the experience. Open formats like Final Friday allow for more community engagement, but can be bit of a free-for-all when trying to form an event.
"You go down to First Friday and some places are open until midnight, and others close at nine. You're not sure what's what," Sunde said. "Our biggest struggle was trying to find that balance between the open format that we're trying to engage the community, then finding an effective way to organize it."
So this year, McCaskill and Sunde are incorporating more defined boundaries for the event and its participants. They focused on finding a balance between so many vendors and acts within a large and open event. But even with the narrowed scope, they are aiming for more attendees than last year.
"We really see this as a great opportunity for neighborhood activation, in a creative way that doesn't just play party to big-name draws," McCaskill explained. "It really allows it to stay locally programmed."
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Tickets and Final Friday event schedules can be found at finalfridaydenver.com.