By Stephanie Lipcius Palko
As businesses in downtown Elkton celebrate anniversaries and more get ready to open, the original blueprint for downtown revitalization is getting closer to being realized.
Getting people downtown is a key part of the revitalization component and the Elkton Alliance, business owners and organizations have used the monthly First Friday to get people to discover what is happening in the town.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Elkton Alliance Director and Town Commissioner Mary Jo Jablonski.
She said many more people are adding First Friday to their activities list and new people are coming each month.
With Elkton’s downtown being named an Arts & Entertainment District, First Friday has been billed as an Art Loop. People can move among several arts-related businesses, as well as visiting the Cecil County Arts Council, Cecil County Historical Society and Cecil College’s Elkton Station.
Getting the Arts Council, Historical Society and Cecil College onboard with making First Friday their official day to open shows or hold special presentations has been a plus for the event, Jablonski said.
“It took a couple of years to get their schedules to match First Friday, but it is now great,” she said.
Restaurants downtown are also benefitting from the crowds.
Last week’s First Friday Art Loop was also the opening day parade for Elkton’s Little League. A warm afternoon and evening also helped bring people into the downtown.
“We were told that The Palette & the Page was counting how many people were coming into the shop and so many people were coming through the door that they stopped counting at 125,” Jablonski said.
Suz’s Quilt shop focuses on materials for those who love quilting, but proprietor Sue Whitaker also has some quilted creations, including place mats, for sale. Jablonski said Whitaker reported that a good number of people came into her shop, including Little League parents, to purchase some items.
“At C3ntral Tavern, you couldn’t get a seat,” Jablonski said, adding, “Minihane’s said they were quite busy, too.’
First Friday has been celebrated in downtown Elkton for about a half dozen years, Jablonski estimated.
“First Friday has become something special to look forward to each month,” she said. “People are bringing family members to show them what is going on and other people said they love to come into town to bump into people they haven’t seen for awhile.”
Artists whose work is featured downtown also help bring more folks into town, she added.
Downtown Elkton’s next First Friday is May 4. It is the first one that will feature a theme, Jablonski said. Her assistant, Jessica Price, said that with the interest in Star Wars and the First Friday being on the 4th of May, they could do a play on words, so the May First Friday will be the May Force Friday. Jablonski said downtown merchants are enthusiastic about thinking how creative they can be with the theme.
More businesses are being added to the downtown mix, she said. The brew pub will be opening soon and plans are continuing toward the opening of a downtown theatre venue.
Jablonski said more people need to get in on the fun in Elkton every First Friday and throughout the month.
“Now that everybody, all the businesses and artists, are on the same page, everybody is doing something special for First Friday,” she said.