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Riders in the first of three criterium races turn onto Main Street in downtown Goshen as they compete in the thirty minute race. Riders swarmed downtown for May’s First Fridays event with hundreds of riders competing in the I Love Goshen Bicycle Criterium on May 4, 2012. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Riders in the first of three criterium races turn onto Main Street in downtown Goshen as they compete in the thirty minute race. Riders swarmed downtown for May’s First Fridays event with hundreds of riders competing in the I Love Goshen Bicycle Criterium on May 4, 2012. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Pedestrians walk through downtown Goshen at the start of the I Love Goshen Bicycle Criterium on May 4, 2012. The races were the featured event at this month’s First Fridays, but food, and spending time with family and friends is always in store for visitors during First Friday. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)
Goshen’s First Fridays to expand in 2013

Posted on Nov. 29, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 29, 2012 at 6:44 p.m.

GOSHEN — Goshen’s First Fridays will look a little different in 2013.

Organizers announced at a Thursday morning meeting the lineup for much of the upcoming year and are planning to expand the popular event the first Friday of every month.

New events for the coming year include:

Ÿ Goshen Restaurant Week: Plans are being put in place for a dining event in February between the February “Goshen is for Lovers” First Friday event and Valentine’s Day.

Ÿ Science Friday in March is being planned around science activities and demonstrations.

Ÿ Expanded bike races in the May festival. In addition to the criterium, races are likely to be added for kids and amateurs on the Saturday. The route being proposed is likely to change and go down Main Street from Lincoln to Jefferson, east to Sixth Street, north to Washington, west to Fifth, north to Lincoln and back to Main.

Ÿ June’s “Sweet Summer Kickoff” may include a food event on the following Saturday at the Goshen Farmers Market.

Ÿ August will likely be a “Sand Blast” with sand volleyball courts on Main Street.

Gina Leichty of Downtown Goshen Inc., which organizes First Fridays, said at the meeting that the criteria is also changing for how local businesses participate in First Fridays. Before, businesses had to be a part of the downtown business district to participate every First Friday. Leichty said that businesses now only need to be located in the downtown to be a part of the new Downtown Goshen Association and are encouraged to be open during festivals, but not required.

Downtown Goshen Inc. is also changing how it handles not-for-profit organizations during First Fridays.

It’s been difficult to balance wanting to support local nonprofit organizations with not wanting to create competition with local businesses, Leichty said. Up to this point, organizers have always said that nonprofits selling food can be a part of the food court, while those selling other items were not allowed. Now, organizers will direct nonprofits to contact downtown store owners directly to see if they can set up in or outside that business, Leichty said, though groups just passing out information will be allowed outside the courthouse.

After the meeting, Leichty said that loitering youths, which had become an issue earlier this spring, were no longer a problem.

“We still see kids downtown,” she said, “but we haven’t seen the kind of issues we had,” like fights or scuffles. More police and volunteer presence has helped, while sports and other after school activities have likely also kept kids more occupied.

Myron Bontrager, owner of The Electric Brew, said that he doesn’t have issues with kids hanging out at his family’s coffee shop, but, he said, when people see large crowds inside the cafe, they may be less likely to come in.

“It’s a really hard issue to know how to deal with,” he said.

For more details on First Fridays and Downtown Goshen Inc., visit www.cityonthego.org.