The Marysville Uptown Renewal Team (URT) will scale back its monthly Uptown Friday Nights series this year, as organizers focus on more behind-the-scenes projects.

The Marysville Uptown Renewal Team (URT) will scale back its monthly Uptown Friday Nights series this year, as organizers focus on more behind-the-scenes projects.

Only one Uptown Friday Night event has been scheduled for this summer, a new Union County Barbeque Festival to take place on June 25. The URT will also handle several other outdoor events this summer, said URT manager Gretchen Friend.

"When I came on board last year, the URT had decided to scale back to two (Uptown Friday Night) events, one being during the All Ohio Bike Fest, and the second being the BBQ fest," Friend said. "The other event added to the list is the ongoing county farmer's market.

"During discussions with the bike fest committee we thought that it would be best if they handled that event, instead of two groups trying to run it at the same time. There will still be many events in Uptown, just not all of them sponsored by the URT."

URT vice chairman Dennis Schulze said that the organization is focusing on other projects that are also important, but less visible to the public.

"As an organization, the Uptown Renewal Team has been looking at a much broader picture," Schulze said. "The Uptown events are fine and good, and we want to continue to have them, especially the strong ones like FestiFair and the Christmas Walk. But we are trying to look at the promotion of Uptown as a whole, as opposed to just bringing in people on the weekend, two or three times a year."

In past years, the Friday Nights Uptown series took the form of block parties, bringing the community together with live music, food and activities for children. Friend said that the summer events that will take place this year will have a stronger emphasis on family fun.

"The URT really wants to put on events that are family-oriented," she said. "We're expanding the farmer's market festival to have more activities for children, and we will be bringing in more folks to talk about healthy eating habits, cooking demonstrations, representatives from the hospital will be there we're looking toward activities that bring more people out to talk about healthy eating and farming."

Schulze described the projects under the URT's focus as more on-going, instead of big weekend events.

"One of the things we're working on is getting a membership program going, where the public will have the opportunity to support Uptown renewal at a nominal fee and in return they will get special discounts and deals from Uptown businesses," Schulze said. "We're also exploring the viability of renovation of some of the Uptown buildings."

Other programs being considered include an adopt-a-block program, where various civic organizations can adopt a portion of the Uptown sidewalks and work to keep them vibrant and clean.

"There are a number of things we're working on, and whenever you have so many things and are getting in depth on the more basic concerns that aren't as visible, you have to prioritize; that's kind of what we've been doing," Schulze said. "We'd love to have a big event every weekend, but that's not practical. So instead, we're putting our efforts into these areas, but it doesn't mean that we won't re-assess our plan for this year or the next."

Uptown visitors will still have a number of outdoor events to attend this year. The Farmer's Market Community Festival will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 14, cooking demonstrations, heritage crafts, live music and activities for kids, according to the URT's Web site. FestiFair, an arts and crafts celebration including artists and antique dealers from across the Midwest, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 11, coinciding with the Union County Covered Bridge Festival. The kickoff to the holiday season, the annual Uptown Christmas Walk, takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 29. The BBQ festival is scheduled for 5 to 11 p.m. June 25. More information on this summer's event schedule can be found on the Web at www.unioncountyed.com.

lrice@thisweeknews.com