"It's a blast," said photographer Donna Knaur. "You hear the traffic and the people talking, smell the smells coming from all the restaurants. You kick back and enjoy the music."
That's Knaur describing the feel of an outdoor First Friday, returning tomorrow, April 5. Williamsport's art market meets all-year-round but moves inside for the winter. The return of the outdoor element of First Fridays is a big deal, Knaur said.
"Indoor versus outdoors is a different atmosphere. Inside is great but outside is just fantastic," she said.
Sun-Gazette File Photo
Williamsport jeweler Beth Moser prefers outdoor First Fridays, too.
"I love the flow of energy moving through the street and among the artwork, the artists and the people," said Moser. "It's a great platform for artists to showcase their work and it brings the community together."
Outdoor First Fridays are much more relaxed than a stuffy gallery showing, Knaur said.
"It's like sitting on your porch in the sunshine and watching the world go by," she said.
Moser appreciates the open-air First Friday market for the freedom it gives her to represent herself as an artist directly to her customers.
"The person buying my artwork gets to meet me," Moser said. "I can explain how something was done or the inspiration behind a piece. That one-on-one contact is so valuable."
First Friday began 13 years ago when a small group of local artists brainstormed ways to bolster Williamsport's creative community. After paging through a brochure about Philadelphia's First Friday, the group decided to create one here.
"First Friday would not be possible without Bernie and Bonnie Katz," said Moser.
Bernie Katz is a member of the First Friday Committee and was president of the Merchant's Association when First Friday began. He and his wife Bonnie own Le Chocolat, a candy store in downtown Williamsport.
"Bernie and Bonnie are the glue that holds it all together," said Moser.
Before First Fridays, Williamsport artists had limited opportunities to connect with each other and showcase their work to the larger community.
"First Friday lets me meet other artists," Moser said. "I think artists are motivated by seeing the work of other artists and that positive reinforcement is why First Friday continues to grow."
Even if you're not an artist, First Friday is a great place to rub elbows with friends and neighbors.
"Bring your family down," said Moser. "It's not just about buying art but about the whole community coming out together."
"You might see somebody down there that you haven't seen in years," said Knaur.
Knaur likes to watch the First Friday crowd and the way people interact with each other. The energy of the event changes over the course of the evening.
"As the night goes on, the age group changes. The kids come out and have a good time enjoying their hometown. Then you have your college kids, the business and professional people," Knaur said.
The excitement will continue to build as the weather gets warmer.
"This First Friday coming up might be a little slow because the weather is still cool," Knaur said. "But don't let that deter you from coming back. You have to keep coming! It's always changing."
Moser agrees that First Friday is definitely worth attending.
"If you've never been, a First Friday is something you need to experience," Moser said.
First Friday has been steadily gaining in popularity since its inception over a decade ago. Even people from areas outside of Lycoming County are coming into Williamsport to enjoy the art.
"People are planning and looking forward to First Fridays now more than ever," said Moser. "Before, there was only a block or two of scattered artists. Now the spots fill up so quickly that you have to go early and register. There are tons of people walking around and parking can be a challenge."
The first outdoor First Friday of 2013 will be held tomorrow, April 5. Pine Street will be shut down from Fourth Street to Little League Boulevard so artists, musicians and vendors can set up their booths. Some local businesses will open their doors and feature artwork, too.
For more information about jeweler Beth Moser, call 220-6248, visit www.BethMoserDesigns.etsy.com, or check out her Facebook page, "Beth Moser Designs."
To learn more about photographer Donna Knaur, visit her website www.mishapsphotography.com or look up her Facebook page, "Mishap's Off the Hip Photos."