First Fridays are BACK! And this year they are going to be better than ever.
Before we get started, big thanks go out to our generous community partners including Walmart, the City of Bentonville, Visit Bentonville, The Walmart Museum, and the Walton Family Foundation. Thanks to the team at Bentonville Parks & Recreation for setting the stage with a beautiful Bentonville Square in full bloom!
Here’s what you can expect from April First Friday fueled by ZOA Energy!
ZOA statement: “When you find energy, that motivation to get started, it doesn't stop with you. It keeps going, keeps evolving, and keeps igniting those around you. ZOA is here to light that spark inside you with a cleaner energy formula. Crafted to help you reach your potential and inspire others to reach just as high.”
1. The theme.
It’s the City of Bentonville’s 150th Anniversary so it’s only fitting that our theme is “Celebrate Bentonville”.
Since 1873, Bentonville has grown in a variety of ways. Some of our favorite moments are reflecting on the City's past and celebrating its future. This First Friday showcases Bentonville’s past, present, and future with our City Partners:
City of Bentonville - Bentonville Planning - 2023 marks the City of Bentonville’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary! (Say that three times fast.) Visit the city's booth to learn about our government's past and growth over the years. While you’re there, be sure to snag stickers with the 150th logo and coloring books that show how the department looks now compared to when it started. Want to share how much you love Bentonville or take a stab at pronouncing “Sesquicentennial”? Stop by the booth to record your own piece of Bentonville history!
Bentonville Animal Services - For the first time in 150 years, we are proud to say that the City of Bentonville has its own shelter! It is open at 801 SW 41st Street. Bentonville Animal Services will be showcasing some adoptable dogs at this month’s First Friday. More information on services & programming at the shelter, as well as a volunteer sign-up, will be available.
Amazeum - Join the Amazeum in weaving together a celebration of our amazing Bentonville community! Leave your mark on our collaborative large-scale loom as we weave a story about what Bentonville means to us.
Bentonville History Museum - The city of Bentonville's history is both long and rich. From early Native American settlements, to a successful agriculture industry, to the Battle of Pea Ridge, to the growth of Walmart, there are many stories to be shared. The Bentonville Historical Museum aims to preserve the past for the future through collection, display, and education for residents and visitors alike.
Macon & Carsons - Macon & Carson Apple Brandy originated in Bentonville, AR in 1893. At one time, the distillery was the largest distillery west of the Mississippi River. In 1914 the distillery closed its doors for good when prohibition came to Arkansas. Swing by and learn about the history behind the distillery.
Crystal Bridges and Momentary - The CB to You Mobile Art Lab will be featuring Local artist Jose Hernandez, who will be live painting a mural themed around storytelling, as well as offering free tickets to the latest exhibition, Diego Rivera’s America. We’ll also be hosting local artist Lupita Albarrán who will be hosting an art-making activity for guests.
Plus don't miss these key players in our community!
Bentonville Fire Department
Bentonville Police-911 for Kids
Bentonville Parks & Rec
2. Children’s Advocacy Center
Join CAC at 11:30 AM in front of the courthouse for the “Cherishing Children Pinwheel Rally” as it recognizes April as National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.
3. Bentonville’s Got Talent: 4:00 PM - 7:20 PM
The first ever Bentonville’s Got Talent attracted a variety of performers from across the city! Each contestant has a diversity of talents. Acts will range from singing, dancing, and comedy, to magic, and stunts. Each performer will attempt to impress our panel of celebrity judges as well as the live community audience. (That’s YOU!)
The BGT winner will be announced after votes have been tallied between 7:00 PM and 7:20 PM. The winner will take home the BGT trophy and secure a spot to perform at the August First Friday!
Meet the panel of judges:
Jerad Sears: A community favorite, country band artist, and creator of City Sessions and the Home Sweet Home- House Show Festival.
Kristine Allen: Straight from Bike Rack Brewing Co., Kristine is no stranger to recognizing great talent.
Matt Strandridge: The well-known and loved 5News Chief Meteorologist, Matt, is trading his weather hat for a night to help choose the lucky winner!
4. Headliner Madison Watkins
An Arkansas native, American singer/songwriter, Madison Watkins, was a Top 12 contestant on Season 19 of ABC's American Idol. Watkins made her industry debut in 2016 and has been releasing original music ever since, including her latest track, Other Ones.
5. A blast from the past!
Better Homes and Gardens - Journey will host some of Bentonville’s favorite competitions and games throughout the event. Check in near the fountain to enter!
Sugar Creek Days:
Granny Apple Blossom’s Games on the square:
- Face painting
- Bean Bag Toss
Ice cream social with Spark Cafe!
6. Introducing Neighborhoods: First Fridays in 2023 are going to be bigger, better, and easier to navigate by being divided into 4 sections called neighborhoods - Engaging, Creating, Welcoming, and Belonging. Read on to learn more.
Engaging sponsored by Bentonville Acupuncture: Our “Engaging” Neighborhood will feature a variety of interactive, interesting, and entertaining action. Vendors and activities will be located on 2nd Street.
Creating sponsored by McClarty Daniel: Stroll up NE A Street to visit the “Creating” Neighborhood. The booths will include some of Bentonville’s most talented artists and makers. As well as an interactive craft for the whole family.
Welcoming sponsored by NW Orthodontics: Continuing over to SE Main street is the portal to our “Welcoming” neighborhood. This neighborhood is where you’ll find family and kid focused vendors, games, and activities including Segway, the NWA Rolling Video Game Truck, and Gel Blaster!
Belonging sponsored by Lifewater: Our final neighborhood is the “Belonging” neighborhood which can be found on NW Main St. It will include vendors and booths from groups that make-up our unique Bentonville community. And of course all our pets!
7. The Schmieding Foundation Inc. presents Sensory Alley
First Friday is a large, loud event that can be overstimulating.
- The Schmieding Foundation Inc.’s Sensory Alley is an inclusive space for individuals who experience barriers in attending First Friday.
- DBI and The Schmieding Foundation Inc. want all individuals who experience these barriers to have a safe and inclusive space inside the First Friday footprint in order to attend and enjoy First Friday.
- Sensory Alley is a drop in, cool down space. To ensure a safe and inclusive space, all individuals requiring support must be accompanied by a family member/caregiver while visiting the space.
Sensory Alley is generously funded by The Schmieding Foundation Incorporated.
8. Your Favorite Food Trucks Return To The Square!
Here’s the full food-truck lineup:
K'Zolis Italian Food
Wicked Wood Fired Pizza
Delta Biscuit Co.
The Spark Cafe Food Truck
9. The triumphant return of the First Friday Kids Zone hosted by FBC Bentonville.
Behind Studio 412 on Main St, FBC hosts a free, fun kids zone. Bouncy house, slides and more!
10. Yoga on the Square
Before the First Friday festivities begin, join Yoga Story at noon on the Bentonville Square for a complimentary yoga class. All yoga levels are welcome to attend! All you need to do is bring a yoga mat and water.
11. Now let’s talk parking.
We want to offer as much guidance as possible when it comes to parking downtown because we know it can get tricky.
Please remember that roads directly around the Bentonville Square will be closed to accommodate the crowds.
Follow this link to a virtual map courtesy of our friends at Visit Bentonville.
As always, we recommend carpooling with your friends and family.
12. So when does it all begin? And when does it end?
Food Trucks will roll up to the square and be available starting at 11:00 AM for lunch.
First Fridays will now start at 3:00 PM and run until 9:00 PM.
Please be advised and be respectful of downtown street closures during this time. We’re all in this together!
13. Share your photos with us & follow along.
@DowntownBentonville is the official social media account for Downtown Bentonville Inc. We’ll post all event updates on our accounts first, so follow us for the latest news and be sure to check out our stories for fun sneak peeks.
If you attend First Friday, fueled by ZOA Energy, make sure to tag us on Instagram at @downtownbentonville for a chance to be featured on our channel.