First Friday returns to downtown Hood River this week — May 4, to be precise.
Yes, we know, every month has a first Friday. But for those of you new to the concept, Hood River’s First Friday is a special event, engaging the entire downtown business community during the months from May through October.
The Hood River Hotel, always at the center of downtown buzz, will dish up several reasons to visit. We’re hosting a bake sale to benefit the girls golf team at Hood River Valley High School. We’ll also host a local jewelry artist, and open our dining room for cocktails and a limited menu of sandwiches and other light fare.
Many downtown businesses — typically closing doors between 5 and 6 — opt to stay open a couple of hours longer on First Friday. Some host special events — artists, music, refreshments. The streets come alive with activities for kids. Musicians and crafts people just show up and plop their stuff everywhere (it’s not really how it’s supposed to work, but it happens anyway).
And, during peak months of summer, the sponsoring Hood River County Chamber of Commerce tries to arrange for closure of Oak Avenue and connecting side streets in the heart of downtown. That’s so crowds can spill into the street, and the asphalt can become home to myriad activities — dancers, music, friendly competition.
In short, it’s a three-ring circus.
First Friday in Hood River is subject to constant change. It all grew out of the Columbia Center for the Arts holding a reception for its newest gallery show on the first Friday of the month (this month, from 6 to 8 p.m., the gallery debuts its “Interpretations” show).
Then the former Downtown Business Association encouraged other businesses to host artists at the same time, which they did for a few years. Then the crowds grew so large that the streets were closed. Then the artists stopped showing work inside businesses, but businesses stayed open anyway, for people who couldn’t get there during regular hours.
The fun starts at 5 p.m. Be here.