Friday After 5 will have a different look during its upcoming 26th season.
The 16-week riverfront festival that began in 1997 is moving its main performance stage from behind the RiverPark Center to behind the Holiday Inn Owensboro Riverfront.
It will also be the debut of the Jagoe Homes Riverfront Live Stage.
“It’s a big (and) massive, beautiful professional stage with amazing equipment and lighting,” said Francine Marseille, executive director of Friday After 5. “We’re really excited about it.”
Marseille said that the main stage is hydraulic, which will allow it to be moved in and out every week. There are also plans to use the stage at McConnell Plaza for a couple of events this summer.
Additionally, the street fair that’s part of Friday After 5 will begin at Frederica Street, running along Veterans Boulevard and down Locust Street on the west side of the Owensboro Convention Center.
Marseille said moving the main stage and the street fair is part of the festival becoming more familial.
“In working with our community and listening to them and hearing the city and bringing the street fair down and utilizing McConnell Plaza, …we’re actually going to have so much more spread-out space then we did up there,” Marseille said. “Even though it will be further down from Smothers Park, that will give families opportunities to do the family events that we have planned, as well as go into the parks and hopefully keep that a safer environment, without as many people right in front of the park.
“With the city’s support … to be able to move this down and make it kind of relaxed, a little more condensed, I think it’s a very positive, family-friend community decision. We’re really family-friendly this year, (and) we’re really working hard to bring our community together.”
Marseille also feels the move will be good for the vendors and other local entities.
“We tried to spread out (before), and that was great, (but) I think that this time with our street fair coming down to Frederica and moving around, it’s going to give us more space for our vendors,” Marseille said. “I think we’re going to be able to have a more exciting street fair down in that area and include … the businesses that are down there.”
One of the new businesses added into the mix this season is Lure Seafood & Grille.
“They’re very excited about how we’re going to be bringing in and focusing in on a more central location,” Marseille said.
Marseille notes that the change and having the overall event closer together benefits tourism, with the possibility of creating “great room packages” with hotels in the area.
The event will also follow a new theme this year: “Picture This.”
“On the 26th wedding anniversary, a lot of families do portrait pictures,” Marseille said. “The family element is changing — kids are off to college, mom and dad have become empty-nesters. We have had the red frame as part of us for a long time, and everyone loves to have their picture taken with the red frame. We decided to adopt ‘Picture This’ (because) it’s a way to hold that memory as a picture tends to (hold) … and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
Acts announced for the upcoming season include The Beatles Rock Show, which Marseille describes as “...not like any tribute (band) that you’ve ever seen,” California new-wave band The Motels, Hollywood Music in Media award-winning blues band Crooked Eye Tommy, cover band The Juice Box Heroes and high-energy dance and show group The Jimmy Church Band.
Additional events will include youth baseball and softball tournaments in July, along with parades and award ceremonies.
With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, safety will remain a priority when the festival opens its 2022 season on May 20.
“We follow it along (because) it moves rapidly. as it did last year,” Marseille said. “We’ll certainly have our health partners involved. It’s an outdoor festival, so we do have a certain leeway depending on what’s happening. (But) all COVID protocols will be in place … because it will vary, and we’re just kind of watching it and following it and following the rules.”