Helena celebrates local businesses

The July edition of Helena's First Friday will actually be on Thursday, July 3, to coincide with the city's Independence Day celebration. (Contributed)

The July edition of Helena’s First Friday will actually be on Thursday, July 3, to coincide with the city’s Independence Day celebration. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HELENA—Helena’s July First Friday will actually take place on Thursday, July 3 to coincide with the city’s Independence Day celebration, Helena Business Association President Bob Van Loan confirmed.

Although on a Thursday, the July First Friday will still be the same monthly celebration, featuring music, arts, crafts, food, jewelry and clothing.

“It’s a mini version of (the Buck Creek Festival),” Van Loan said, but First Friday “concentrates primarily on Helena businesses.”

The Helena Business Association recently assumed control of the monthly event, which was previously run by a private business owner.

“The Mayor called me about two weeks before the June event… and asked if we could assume management of it,” Van Loan explained. “(He) needed help to keep the event alive and grow it. It’s such a boon for Helena.”

The monthly event is a “celebration of Helena businesses,” and Van Loan said the HBA “actively looking” to draw more local vendors.

“We are in the process of getting many more new vendors,” Van Loan said, adding “somewhere between two and three dozen” are signed up to participate in the July 3rd event and the HBA is “hoping to double that.”

In addition to vendors, the shops in Old Town Helena extend hours and often have special events for First Fridays. Rosalie Oetting, owner of Helena’s Ice and Coal art gallery, plans to do a special feature of Hoover resident and self-taught artist Donna DiGiorgio’s work. Amy Webb, owner of Helena Mercantile clothing store, said the store will begin the “annual Fourth of July sale” for the July 3rd event.

However, First Friday is not all about shopping, there are a lot of other activities to enjoy.

“There will be a band a one end of the street and a D.J. at the other,” Van Loan said, adding there will also be a vintage car show at every First Friday and the HBA is working to bring in kids’ activities such as a bounce house.

“(First Friday has) such a family and community atmosphere,” Webb said. “We love this town and we want to see it blossom and grow.”