The buzz downtown has been growing for two years now, and Globe’s First Friday is gaining momentum, drawing locals and visitors alike to the streets of the historic downtown business district for an evening of fun, food and entertainment.
The monthly event began in October 2020 in the wake of the COVID shutdown when city leaders searched for a way to revitalize downtown businesses and give residents an opportunity to get out of the house.
The City of Globe’s Economic Development Department, Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce, and several local business owners met over coffee to brainstorm ways they could work together to bring traffic back into local businesses safely.
“This was a quality-of-life decision for us to help our residents get out after COVID and reconnect with the community,” says Globe Mayor Al Gameros.
Over time, First Friday has drawn more than just local shoppers. Local youths have been flocking to Globe’s historic downtown to enjoy time with friends, play at the refurbished Veterans Park, eat popcorn and cotton candy, and even shop.
The event is a draw to both locals and visitors, featuring business specials, street vendors, music, food trucks, and activities for kids and adults alike.
Activities such as the Broad Street Cruise harkens back to the 1970s and ’80s, when “bombing Broad” was a favorite pastime. The Broad Street Cruise also allows local car enthusiasts to show off their classic wheels and enjoy time with fellow car lovers.
The action takes place at several locations downtown from 4 to 8 p.m. on the first Friday of every month. The Broad Street Cruise starts at 6 p.m. The food trucks are located at the Old Dominion Parking lot across from the train depot, and entertainment takes place at the bandstand outside the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts.
“We became involved when First Fridays were using the bandstand and decided it made sense for us to join in,” says CVCA Gallery Manager Wil Bowen. “It’s been very beneficial to us and has worked out great.”
It’s been so good for the Arts Center that they have geared gallery openings to the First Friday schedule because of the increased foot traffic resulting from more people coming downtown.
Bowen became the gallery manager last year after about three years as a volunteer and part-time employee. He was drawn to the job because he likes to interact with artists and the people who visit the gallery.
He says visitors are often surprised at the quality and variety of artwork produced by local artists, and he sometimes even finds new artists from newcomers visiting the gallery for the first time.
With autumn approaching, the CVCA is heading into its holiday season and will celebrate Hispanic heritage in the main gallery from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
Bowen believes fall is critical for downtown businesses and the local economy.
“It’s the time of year the tourists return,” Bowen says. “Many people don’t realize how dependent Globe is on tourism, but when we give them a good experience, they go home and tell their friends who might come to visit.”
To keep the kids engaged, Holly Brantley with the Globe-Miami Farmers Market recently volunteered to manage the Kids Bash at the park in front of Globe City Hall.
As part of its efforts to improve recreational opportunities, through a donation from BHP, the City has invested in an overhaul of Veterans Park, including brand-new playground equipment and a new surface to play on.
“We have fun activities for newborns to kids aged 90-plus,” says Brantley. “The Cobre Valley Youth Club brings carnival games, and we even have hula hoops. I’ve even seen grown men hula-hooping with their young daughters.”
Brantley volunteered because when she was growing up in the Globe-Miami area, the PTA at Central Heights School would put on the best carnivals she had ever experienced. She wanted to carry on that tradition, so there’s now plenty of fun, games, and prizes for everyone.
Each month, Globe’s Community and Economic Development Department develops themes for First Friday.
The Oct. 7 First Friday will celebrate the Globe High School Homecoming, welcoming GHS Tigers past and present into downtown for the Globe High School Homecoming Parade at 1 pm. Festivities will be going on all day and evening — local vendors at the Oak Street Market, Neto & Band Imagine playing at 6 p.m. at the food trucks, and the Kids Bash at the park will be all about “Tiger Night.”
November’s theme will be “Globes-giving,” and all nonprofits are invited and encouraged to participate. The Kids Bash will feature a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. This First Friday event will be full of opportunities for giving, such as donations to the local food bank or pet food donations to help the High Desert Humane Society.
During First Friday events, local restaurants and bars such as Vida e Caffé, La Casita, Farley’s Pub, the Huddle, Bloom, Bravo, and others offer food and drink specials. Shops such as the Hill Street Mall, The Knotty Fox, Pretty Kind Boutique, Splash of Copper, and more offer discounts and side events such as live music or fun games, drawing people in their doors, some who have never been in their shops before. Many businesses stay open for extended hours during the event and offer incredible specials.
Ashley Olmstead and Nicholas Arndt, owners of The Knotty Fox Workshop, opened their business just as the COVID-19 shutdown took place and were among the business owners who met for the brainstorming phase of First Friday.
“It has been so amazing to see the growth of the First Friday events,” Olmstead says. “It is a great community event that we look forward to each and every month. We enjoy meeting new faces and welcoming those who come to see us every month.”
The Knotty Fox Workshop is a locally owned business featuring hand-carved and crafted items and candy, with a friendly smile. Located beneath the CVCA, the Knotty Fox keeps its doors open for every First Friday event and offers specials.
Additionally, the Food Truck Round-Up at the Old Dominion lot features a number of restaurants on wheels, including the ever-popular Dre’s Dawg House.
Food truck owner and Miami native Andre Gonzales and his wife, Griselda Ruiz, specialize in Sonoran hot dogs. This southern Arizona specialty is particularly popular in Ruiz’s hometown of Douglas. Sonoran dogs are wrapped in bacon and garnished with whole beans, tomato, mustard, mayonnaise, and jalapeño sauce.
“The secret is in the bread,” Gonzales says. “I’m not saying this just because they are ours, but I think ours are better than the ones you can get in Douglas or Tucson.”
The concept of Dre’s started as a joke between the couple in 2018, but Gonzales’s passion became a good source of income for his family.
At first, they set up at the Walmart parking lot near the old Safeway store. When the spot became too popular with vendors and they were asked to leave, Gonzales began looking for an alternative. That’s when he was asked to join the inaugural First Friday event.
“The City invited me to do this to promote the downtown Globe area, and that was exactly what I wanted to do,” he says. “City staff has done a phenomenal job with the organization, growth, promoting, and marketing and has worked hard. This event has helped us as food truck vendors.”
The Food Truck Round-Up began with only Dre’s Dawg House participating as a food vendor, but has grown to include a total of 17 food trucks participating. Gonzales adds that First Friday has become a boon for downtown businesses. He sees the event as a way for the community to get together, connect, and often catch up with old friends.
In addition to food trucks, First Friday invites vendors to sell their wares, an invitation that Amanda Twitty and her mother, Phyllis, were more than happy to accept.
The mother-daughter team — joined by Twitty’s three-legged Yorkie, Hop-along Cassidy — are the driving force behind Growing Wild in Arizona, selling plants online and at events in the Valley and various locations around the Copper Corridor.
Phyllis has been in Globe for 15 years and Amanda relocated from Mesa five years ago to help her mother. The two eventually hope to open a nursery in the area.
“We started at First Fridays about a year ago, and it’s a great way of networking and getting our products out there,” Twitty says. “Globe is a beautiful town with a lot to offer, and this is a unique way for us to sell our product.”
Growing Wild specializes in creating hanging gardens for people with limited space. Options include cooking herbs or succulents, among other various themes, and they also sell a wide variety of flowers online at www.growingwildinaz.com.
Gameros says the success of First Friday reflects the City’s investment in the community and is one of the benefits brought to the local economy since Globe created the Economic Development Department in 2018.
“We’re seeing the returns on what we’ve been doing,” he says. “We’ve accelerated our focus on economic development by increasing marketing and sponsoring community events – and it’s starting to pay off.”
For more information about getting involved in First Friday, contact Melissa Steele at (928) 200-0836.
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.