After a long, cold winter, the city of Marysville is about to get the summer party started. The Friday Nights Uptown series returns for its fourth year with Uptown BBQ night May 16. The featured entertainment will be Arnett Howard.
"We just want to put it out there for the community and residents to enjoy," said city event planner Amanda Morris.
The city will host four Friday Nights Uptown events, all of which take place from 6 to 10 p.m. on Court Street. Admission is free, though vendors will sell food and drinks.
On June 13, the Wine & Jazz Fest will fill Court Street with Dave Powers providing the entertainment. McGuffey Lane will make a return visit July 11 on Chalk the Block night.
"Last year, the McGuffey Lane brought out a tremendous crowd. The weather was really good, too," Morris said. "Each event has its own niches. It's a really good mix of people."
On Aug. 8, the Founder's Day & Car Show will showcase Sibling Rivalry.
Morris said the series has been growing every year, both in attendance and sponsorships. Because of the open nature of the event, the city does not try to track attendance. Morris estimated a typical crowd may be 2,000 to 3,000 people.
"Our sponsors have been very loyal," Morris said. This year's main sponsors are Bob Chapman Ford, Edward Jones, Honda Marysville and Coughlin Cars. She said several contributing sponsors are returning, and the Richwood Banking Company and WECU Pathways Financial Credit Union signed on this year.
Morris said the key to the series' growth is simple.
"I would say it has just flourished because we've been consistent for a rain-or-shine event. The residents, the community have embraced that consistency," she said.
Local organizations volunteer to help with concession sales or run errands as needed. Any organization that wants to volunteer can email Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, good weather helped make each event successful, according to Morris.
"We were able to either break even or come in the positive by a few hundred dollars," she said.
The 2013 series cost the city about $5,600 per event on average, before revenue from vendors or concessions was counted. But Morris said the return on investment is substantial.
"One of the things we've always tried to keep in mind when we plan the events is what is best for the community," she said. "We always try to make them self-funded rather than trying to make any money or fundraise for the events.
"People can come out and have a great time and have the block-party feel," Morris said. "I think this helps us stay in that grassroots sort of feeling."
Looking ahead to 2015, Friday Nights Uptown may look different since Partners Park will be open.
Partners Park, under construction on the corner of South Main and Sixth streets, is a $1.16 million project to create a gazebo, splash pad, garden and kiosk. It also will include a pavilion ideal for festivals.
"I think we'll definitely want to take advantage of the new park at that time and enjoy the amenities of it," Morris said.
Morris said she is excited to see how the series grows this year.
"It's a great opportunity for people to come out and mingle and have a great family night and keep everyone local," she said.