November 2007

Good Time Old Fashioned Fun

Author: Teresa Ftzgibbons

What’s new in Old Town Bluffton? The Bluffton Old Town Merchants Society invites everyone to find out at “Thank Goodness It’s (Third) Friday,” held the third Friday of every month on Calhoun Street from 5-8 pm. The event welcomes long time locals, newcomers, and visitors alike to enjoy the best of Bluffton with savory Southern cuisine, live entertainment, shopping, and more in the heart of historic Old Town.

“You can come out on Friday night and have dinner and walk down the street. You can browse the shops, enjoy the arts, and there are activities for kids as well as good food and music,” said Sarah Bergin, Executive Director, Bluffton Old Town Merchants Society. “It’s beautiful in the evening. It’s the perfect place for families and friends to come together and enjoy themselves.”

Crowds can dance to the beat of several different bands; each Friday welcomes at least three different types of music ranging from deejays that get the crowd moving to rock bands, blues and jazz performers and the steel drums of Willie Cohen. There is plenty to keep the kids amused too, including appearances by Yostie and her puppets, jugglers, and other fun and games. With deviled crab, shrimp, a Lowcountry boil, and oyster roasts (in season) to hot dogs, hamburgers, and barbeque served up by Old Town restaurants, there’s sure to be something to tempt everyone’s palate. Wine, beer, and soft drinks are also available. Sidewalk sales, artist demonstrations, and historical reenactments are also part of the fun some Fridays.

“Third Fridays let people come out to Old Town Bluffton and see what it’s all about,” said Babbie Guscio, owner of The Store.” They come to eat and drink and see their friends, but they usually come back.”

Thank Goodness It’s (Third) Friday provides the perfect opportunity to stroll the historic streets of Calhoun and Boundary, visiting the assorted art galleries and diverse retailers. The area is home to galleries housing every genre of art imaginable—painting and pottery, sculpture and ironworks, textiles and folk art—as well as charming antique stores, gift shops, and other small, locally owned stores.

“I think that the Third Fridays have worked out well for the merchants,” said local artist, Amos Hummell, whose Amos Hummell and Friends’ Living Color Performances, a mixture of songs and skits with audience participation on his funky, folksy stage helped anchor the event. “We’ve got a good following now; it’s cyclical. People know that Third Fridays mean good food and good music, and they come back and bring their friends.”

“That was the whole point of Third Fridays,” said Bergin. “It was a way of saying ‘Hello, here we are—come out and enjoy and come back when you need something.’”

Scenes from the B-Town Block Parties

Part of the appeal of Thank Goodness It’s (Third Friday) lies in the atmosphere of Old Town itself. Decades ago, the dilapidated buildings drew artists who found them affordable and turned the once gritty side street into a veritable artists’ colony. The area soon attracted other eclectic shops and eccentric residents who personified the elusive “Bluffton State of Mind.” Despite the growth and development that has come to Greater Bluffton, the Old Town area has retained its character; and nowhere is that character more evident than Calhoun and Boundary Streets, where historic homes and buildings lie beneath canopies of ancient oaks, amid fragrant magnolias and breezy palmettos.

“Old Town appeals to people,” said Guscio. “It’s a quaint old place and has more of a small town feeling than other places in the area.”

Thank Goodness It’s (Third) Friday began in June of 2006. Each month draws hundreds of attendees from Sea Pines to Sun City as well as tourists. The next Thank Goodness It’s (Third) Friday will be from 5-8 p.m. on November 16. For more information, call 815-9522 or 304-1922.

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