Downtown Portsmouth has been rocking since spring, thanks to Boneyfiddle’s Final Friday festivals, which have been established as the area’s most attended monthly entertainment event between the months of April and September. Final Friday closed its second season of performances last week and the parent organization, Boneyfiddle Project, is currently looking back with pride and ahead for more.
The events began last year, under the direction of local entrepreneurs and artists Charlie Haskins and Gail Valentine. The two have stepped back this summer and allowed friend Robert Black, of Boneyfiddle Project, to take over the planning.
The musical acts have shifted to showcase more regional talent, verses relying on Scioto County musicians, and has also incorporated a few other additions, including a monthly beautification award.
Last year’s events also welcomed many more visual artists and vendors, but the event this year had a reliable food vendor and a collection of people and businesses attending various festivals.
The event continues to have local businesses operating under extended hours, so that guests can explore and discover what Boneyfiddle offers. Various food outlets are present as well, keeping the guests fed, so they can last all evening enjoying the celebrations.
The six festivals that made this summer welcomed thousands of people and over 50 performers.
It has also been getting a lot of support from locals, including Boneyfiddle’s very own Sue Burke.
“The event Robert is having with Final Friday is very similar to what we once had with Main Street called First Friday,” Burke said. “Our event was geared towards making money, though. Final Fridays are very laid back and have been very well received. I see all kinds of people down there and they are all just listening to music and enjoying themselves. The event is a totally different twist on things and I think it is really nice.”
Black said the attendance numbers grew with nearly every show, as more people began to venture to the performances and realize what to expect.
“August was a breakthrough month for us, because the crowd was estimated at 300,” Black said. “The lineup was especially strong when Holly and the Guy hit the stage, followed by the Sugarbeats, and Micah Kesselring.”
Black spoke through a smile as he discussed the impact the Final Friday festivals have had on downtown Portsmouth. The artist says each concert was different, since he had a lot of talent to pull from, and believes that each concert celebrated its own success.
“The impact of these Final Friday concerts is immeasurable. People are excited and talk about the event all month long. It also gives our merchants more visibility and foot traffic, and it gives the artists a paid venue to hone their talent and gain exposure,” Black said. “I personally couldn’t be happier with the acceptance this event has gained over the season.”
Black and his associates are looking at ways to improve the event next summer. Final Friday will reconvene in April.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.