Calera Main Street kicks off First Friday series

Published 12:04 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

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CALERA – Attendees weaved between tents lining Calera’s 17th Avenue—laughing, shopping and enjoying delicious crawfish as they gathered as a community to celebrate the start of summer. Calera Main Street kicked off this year’s First Friday event series with its third annual Crawfish Boil on Friday, April 5 from 6-9 p.m.

Calera Main Street is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization of Calera’s downtown business district. According to Calera Main Street Director Jackie Batson, First Friday is a free, community festival series celebrated on the first Friday of every month, with the exception of July which has Independence Day Fireworks on Thursday, July 4.

“First Friday is a great opportunity for the whole community and people in neighboring counties to come and have something different to do,” Batson said. “We always have a lot of food trucks. We have vendors. And, of course, our merchants and sponsors participate as well.”

For April, the First Friday theme featured the third annual Calera Crawfish Boil, courtesy of Red Mountain Crawfish Company and sponsored by ERA King Real Estate.

According to Batson, the Red Mountain Crawfish Company sold more than 600 pounds of crawfish this year to an estimated 1,200 guests.

“(Red Mountain Crawfish Company) is an incredible food truck,” Batson said. “They get their crawfish fresh from Louisiana and they actually sell all the way up into the Carolinas. This is their gig and they’re good at it. The quality was really incredible.”

After attendees grabbed their crawfish, they could eat under the new pavilion in the Calera Courtyard. Adults enjoyed their meals while their children tore up the dancefloor to the beats laid down by DJ the DJ from DJ2 Entertainment Services. And if that didn’t get their energy out, children could visit the face painting tables and a bouncy castle.

Unlike previous years, the 2024 First Friday festivals benefit from Calera City Council Ordinance 2023-17 which established an entertainment district in the city of Calera on Aug. 21, 2023. This ordinance allows patrons to carry open containers of alcohol and walk freely through the downtown district between noon and midnight, provided that the alcohol is obtained from a licensed vendor.

“You’re able to walk around with an open drink while you enjoy something like a festival with a band or DJ,” Batson said. “You can shop and have a beer with your dinner if you want to, so it’s really nice.”

At the Crawfish Boil, guests were able to imbibe courtesy of the Dancing Dragon Tavern, a lesser-known full bar located inside of Main Street’s gaming store, R.O.E. Hobby. To go with the crawfish, the Dancing Dragon Tavern prepared a special punch with a splash of pineapple and coconut rum.

Overall, Batson shared that she was very happy with the turnout as she looks to prepare for the next First Friday event, May’s Cinco de Mayo Cornhole Tournament.

“My favorite part really is the same almost every time,” Batson said. “I am always tickled to see people having such a good time and how excited the community is. Just seeing people so happy, that is very rewarding to me.”

The next First Friday event is the Cinco de Mayo Cornhole Tournament on Friday, May 3. All proceeds from the third annual cornhole tournament will benefit the MS Society.