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.
Here’s what you can expect from May 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: Pet-A-Palooza 🦮
2. Sponsored by: Best Friends Animal Society and Mamba
Best Friends Animal Society opened their new, kennel-free pet resource center in Bentonville on March 11, 2023, and has helped thousands of dogs and cats from area shelters find adoptive homes since that time. Best Friends works with more than 40 shelters and rescues in Northwest Arkansas to end the killing of healthy and treatable cats and dogs in shelters across the region and the state.
Drop by the Best Friends' booth to check out one of their transport vans to learn how Best Friends moves pets out of overcrowded shelters and into foster homes to save lives. Bring your stuffed animal to the Best Friends Stuffy Clinic for a check-up and health certificate, meet adoptable dogs, make toys for dogs and cats in shelters, win fun swag items, and learn about becoming a foster family to a homeless dog or cat.
Stop by the Mamba Booth to sample limited edition summertime fruit chews, take a picture with your favorite pet in a Summer Time Photo booth, and chill & recharge while walking around First Friday.
3. Petting Zoo: 4:00 - 7:30 PM
Goats, Rabbits, Chickens, Pigs, and Ducks! OH MY! Friendly Farms Mobile Petting Zoo will have all the animal friends on S. Main St. for you to meet.
4. Pet Parade and Adoptions: 6:45 - 7:15 PM
The Bentonville Pet Parade will meet and start at the corner of Central Avenue and Main Street. (Where Spark Cafe is under construction.) The parade will make its way around the square. Following the parade, from 7:00 - 7:15 PM, the Best Friends Animal Society will take over the main stage with some furry friends who are available for adoption.
5. Bentonville Pets Talent Show: 7:15 - 7:25 PM
Sign-ups open at 4:00 PM at the table near the fountain. Participants will perform in front of the mainstage starting at 7:15 PM. This talent show is all for fun, there won’t be a prize. Think of it as a space to show off your pet!
6. Pets On The Square 4:00 PM
“Best Dressed Pets on the Red Carpet Catwalk”
Take a stroll around the Bentonville Square for additional fun, including pet boutiques, pet artists, pet jewelry, pet treats, veterinary clinics, free pet swag, & more!
Be sure to visit Have A Heart Rescue, make a donation, and have your pet microchipped to keep them safe.
Stop by North Main Street to check out our friends at CoolWag! The Coolwag team will be showcasing dog sports and training techniques. Staff will demonstrate activities like lure chase and agility while trainers will be there to help participants with a few exercises to try their "paw" at sports! (These activities will be first come / first serve.)
7. Papa Rap & Coloring Twelve on the Mainstage!
Presented by The Music Education Initiative and sponsored by Artosphere.
Papa Rap 4:15 - 5:15 PM
Papa Rap’s live stage show will engage you with bilingual songs, fun drum playing, and Caribbean Salsa and Merengue dancing. Papa Rap’s show is completely interactive with the audience, as they sing and dance to his tunes—some even get to come up on stage to play some fun drums as they become part of his Latin Beat Band.
Coloring Twelve 5:30 – 6:45 PM
Coloring Twelve is the latest music project from Lauren Nicole Clare. Its sound is rooted in the concept of texture and atmosphere and currently features Jazz musicians Jake Hertzog, Claudia Burson, Benji Wilson, Steve Wilkes, and Zoie Benton.
8. Dueling Pianos Take The Mainstage! 7:30 - 9:00 PM
Warm up your vocal chords and get ready for a singalong jam with Heartland Dueling Pianos!
A totally interactive entertainment experience, Heartland Dueling Pianos will appear at Bentonville’s First Friday from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM. The players take requests for all types of music so you can sing and dance along to all of your favorites! From classic oldies to more modern hits, this duo has got it all! Combining the piano, singing, and comedy talents of Tony Baragona (owner), and partner, Tammy Jojo, the duo will create a party atmosphere that will keep you engaged and entertained the entire time.
9. Kitten Yoga with Yoga Story to benefit Mew Cat Rescue
Yoga Story is teaming up with Mew Cat Rescue to offer Kitten Yoga classes to benefit the rescue. Available times are 1:30 PM and 5:00 PM. Space is limited. Tickets are available at www.yogastory.info/workshops.
10. Neighborhoods are back: First Fridays in 2023 are 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!
And be sure to keep walking down Main St. to Ledger! There will be a few sweet treats for your and your pets as you walk the ramps.
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!
11. 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.
12. Lunch Break: Your Favorite Food Trucks Return To The Square!
Here’s the full food-truck lineup:
13. 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!
14. All things parking!
As always parking is difficult, so DBI encourages everyone to arrive early. The full First Friday event begins at 3 PM. Downtown Bentonville Inc. and our partners Trailblazers, People for Bikes NWA, Runway Group, and Visit Bentonville, encourage our community to ride to First Friday! A Downtown Bentonville Park and Ride map has been created to aid in visiting downtown Bentonville without a car. Use any set of wheels (or even just one) and follow a suggested route available at the link below: https://wearetrailblazers.org/nwa-parkandride
The map includes bike racks, bike shops, and more to help in planning.
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.
We also recommend carpooling with your friends and family.
15. So when does it all begin?
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!
16. 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.
Bonus: Thanks to our partners at Crystal Bridges, the Friday fun continues downtown with Art Trail at Night…Read more here!