Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

October First Friday returns to the street


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Ironwood — Ironwood’s First Friday celebration moves outdoors again for the first time since the monthly events went virtual last April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The October First Friday event will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, said Tim Erickson, community development specialist for the city of Ironwood and First Friday committee member in his report to the Downtown Ironwood Development Authority Board on Thursday.

The farmers market will move from the Historic Ironwood Depot to the Downtown Art Park for the event. Artisans and vendors will display goods inside and outside of downtown businesses including the Historic Ironwood Theatre and the Downtown Arts Place.

The initial plan was to have the vendors and farmers market set up in the new Downtown City Square, he said. Construction work and pandemic policies on distancing don’t yet allow for an event of that type in the space.

The October First Friday has traditionally served as Ironwood’s “Plaidurday” event where participants wear plaid to coincide with the “Worldwide Celebration of Plaid.” It won’t be possible for people to gather together on Aurora Street for an aerial photo due to social distancing requirements, but there are alternatives, Erickson said.

Plaid wearers can instead take part in a selfie contest, he said. There will be two selfie areas downtown with a plaid backdrop.

Participants can take a selfie photo and then post it on social media along with tagging @IronwoodMichigan, @StormyKromerOfficial, and #Plaidurday, he said. This will serve as an entry for a drawing with Stormy Kromer merchandise as prizes.

“Stormy Kromer is sponsoring the event financially and also just helping out with the contest giveaway,” Erickson said.

There is no musician lined up for a live or live-stream performance for October, he said. Myron Elkins and the Dying Breed performed a live-stream concert from the Historic Ironwood Theatre for the September First Friday, closing out the summer music series.

The series was possible in large part to a mini-grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, he said. An application for another mini-grant is currently going through the legislative process.

If for some reason the mini-grant is not approved then an application for second-round funding in January would be submitted, he said.

Amy Nosal, chair of the Downtown Ironwood Development Authority, said the November First Friday will be themed along the lines of “Find Your Peace.” It will be designed to be a low key event to follow a week that includes a full moon Halloween, the end of Daylight Savings Time and the presidential election.

“I think it is an opportunity to have a little hurrah that we are all still standing,” Nosal said.

Inspired by past outdoor art exhibitions at Miners Memorial Heritage Park, she recalled there was a wish and prayer tree where people were treated with peace pretzels and created peace messages to put on a tree.

If the pergola construction is completed by November then the First Friday event could include a similar event for people to “create a shared peace together,” she said. There could be a wish and prayer box with materials for people to create items for a shared peace with each other going forward.

Nosal said she recalled when the pandemic shutdown started that people were organizing “community howls,” where neighborhoods and communities would all step out and howl at dusk to show unity during a time of stress and fear. Nosal said there could be a First Friday howl to close the event at 8 p.m.

“I think it is so important to acknowledge and move forward after what will likely be a crazy month,” Flory said. “Thanks for making all this happen.”

DIDA member Ivan Hellen said the peace event could also be an opportunity for the community to show its appreciation to area healthcare workers, law enforcement, teachers, grocers and others who are potentially exposed to COVID-19 while working jobs that serve the community. There could be discounts offered at downtown businesses or another gesture of thanks, he said.

There are still opportunities to participate in the vendor fair for the October First Friday. For more information, call 906-932-5050 extension 125.

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