The first First Friday of the 2011 season, the free event takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the downtown Bentonville square. What can you experience there? Live music, food, family activities, and additional activities associated with that month’s First Friday theme.
Today’s is International First Friday. The International Red Cross will be at the event taking financial donations to support their Japanese relief efforts.
Several groups will entertain during today’s lunch concert. The Academy of Christ Bell Choir will take the stage from 11:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. The traditional Irish band, Sligo, plays from noon to 1 p.m. Sligo is an Arkansas based Celtic music trio that specializes in Irish and Scottish traditional music, including fast jigs, reels and hornpipes.
The late afternoon music starts at 4:30 p.m. with the ArkanSalsa band, led by local celebrity Al “Papa Rap” Lopez. The band mixes Afro-Caribbean and Arkansas rhythms. Sligo gives another performance from 5:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. Then Terra Nova Tribal Dance group takes over the stage performing traditional and new belly dances until 6:25 p.m. Reggae artists Az One, the event headliner, performs at 6:30 pm. Az One has performed with many international reggae acts, including The Itals, Burning Spear, Culture, Fela Kuti, The Skatalites, Ziggy Marley, Bunny Wailer and many others.
Today’s family fun includes pony rides, a bungee jump swing, a giant slide and rock wall, community information booths, specialty crafts workshops and other programs. Several merchants around downtown stay open and have a wide variety of First Friday specials.
And as if that weren’t enough, you can also make it a movie night. At 8 p.m., the City of Bentonville Parks Department will show “Madagascar” at the Ernie G. Lawrence Plaza as part of its First Friday Flicks series.
Bentonville First Fridays are produced by Downtown Bentonville, Inc., and sponsored in part by the City of Bentonville, Bentonville Advertising and Promotions Commission, the Walmart Visitor Center and the Walton Arts Center. Go to www.downtownbentonville.org for more information.