Fondren’s First Thursday returns next month, but it’s not what you expect.
“I’ll have it put on my tombstone: ‘Complacency Was No Friend of Mine,” says the always entertaining — and unpredictable Chane of the changes coming to the monthly neighborhood street party.
FFT, as it’s known to many (to some, still Fondren After 5), will work off of a system of alternating presenters each month beginning March 2.
Three State Street Concert Series events, the return of FRF’s Arts, Eats & Beats and their Fondren Unwrapped – on a new date, a Museum of Art helmed night and three “FFT Throwbacks” round out a calendar of first-of-the-month activities planned to take place in historic downtown Fondren.
Under a broader banner of “FFT Remixed,” Chane says the level of intensity will be dialed back to allow a different flow of creativity and a refocus on the night’s core brand standards.
“Die hard FFT’ers will still have something in there they identify with,” he says of the “families-kids-pets-arts-food-music” aspect of FFT. “This is still a positive night of people enjoying people, seeing our neighborhood from different perspectives. There will be an ebb and flow with much more variety. In short, something for everyone.”
It also puts less of a burden on Chane and his small team of volunteers to be all things to all people. “We’re going to dial it way back on the logistical side of things to give me time to refocus on my life and my business.”
For starters, vendor opportunities, dubbed FAM – Fondren Artist Market, will be reduced to two FFT “throwback” events in June and September. Duling Avenue won’t be completely blocked every time and the north bound lane of State Street will remain open.
“What some people called the ‘main stage’ in front of Rooster’s will be brought back to the porch at Sneaky Beans. There won’t be tents and tables and big events in front of Fondren Corner this year so there’s more room for people to just be.”
After revamping Fondren After 5 in 2014 then rebranding and owning FFT in 2015 and 2016, Chane says he, along with the merchants and restaurants, is better figuring out many aspects of the night.
“This event has taken two years to reach its creative maturity,” says Chane, who will spearhead his block – from Browns around to St. Luke’s- in their activities in April, June and September. He ensures his role in other months is to merely play in the “supporting cast.”
“FFT is not an ‘I’ but a ‘We,” he says. “I, for one, am looking forward to being able to attend Arts, Eats & Beats or a State Street concert. And maybe I’ll get to just be a spectator at one of those FFT events, too.” Laughing, he adds, “I hear they’re really fun!”