PANAMA CITY — Downtown gets the festivities rollin’ early this weekend, starting the 11th season of Friday Fest in February with a Mardi Gras theme.
“The cars will be decorated for it, and we encourage everyone to come out in their Mardi Gras attire,” said Angela Hood, Events and Social Media coordinator with the Downtown Improvement Board.
Friday Fest will continue the first Friday of each month through November with retail booths, food, extended store hours, classic car displays, children’s activities and family-friendly bands. Buffalo Rock/Pepsi and Bud Light are this year’s sponsors.
“We had a banner year last year. Even though we had a lot of rain, we had a fantastic showing and everyone enjoyed it,” DIB Director Dutch Sanger said. “I think people are looking for something fun and free for the family, and this fits the bill.”
Sanger has encouraged food vendors to offer Cajun items on their menus Friday, and food tents again will be set up with tables and chairs in the street. Downtown also offers a variety of restaurants, and businesses are extending store hours to coincide with Friday Fest.
The retail booths open at 5:30 p.m., and the music starts at 6 p.m. — expect all ages to be dancing in the streets. Friday night’s bands include Tropic Sands band, Reasonable Doubt, Mulberry Republic, KD of Legacy and Breeze.
Activities will take place in the 200, 300, 400 and 500 blocks of Harrison Avenue. All areas are closed to vehicular traffic and five stages will be set up — at the intersections of Sixth, Fifth and Fourth street in front of Trigo’s and at Gateway Park.
“In March, we are going to start doing arts in the park with local artists featured in the park, wine tastings and music in the park,” Sanger added. “On Friday, a band will be playing jazz music at Gateway Park in front of McKenzie Park — get people used to music being over there.”
The Downtown Improvement Board also will be handling the St. Andrews Mardi Gras Festival on Feb. 21-22.
“We’ve never moved Friday Fest to February, so we are not sure what to expect,” Sanger said. “We will be the official kick off of the Mardi Gras season.”
What: Extended business hours, food trucks, vendors, bands and car show; presented by thte Downtown Improvement Board
When: 5:30-10 p.m. Feb. 7
Where: Downtown Panama City, from the 200 to 500 blocks of Harrison Avenue and McKenzie Park
Details: (850) 785-2554