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  • Tara Crutchfield

First Friday Winter Haven

Everyone’s talking about it! Are you going? First Friday, launching Friday, February 2, will be a monthly family-friendly, can’t-miss event to bring the community downtown for dinner, drinks, live music, shopping, and vibes.  



First Friday is brought to you by Destroyer Media & Marketing. “The idea is to support local business and promote downtown,” said Destroyer Media & Marketing Partner and Publisher Chris Sexson. “Winter Haven is growing; things are happening. First Friday seems like a no-brainer for a city that’s the hub of activity. Winter Haven is becoming a hub of activity for shopping, dining, and events.” 


Centered around the downtown corridor, First Friday will become a flagship event for the community. Patrons can enjoy food and drink specials from downtown restaurants while dining al fresco under market lights or at our new sidewalk cafes (coming soon). They can shop with downtown businesses that stay open late for the event, and there will be live musicians and other entertainment at multiple venues. “With all of the improvements and new businesses coming to downtown – the sidewalk cafes, Bowen Yard, and more – we want to have an event for people to experience all of that downtown,” said Lyndsey Venrick, Events Director for Destroyer. 


“Walk around town, see some live music, grab a bite, have a drink, see a show. There’s a lot to do from a comedy club that wasn’t here a few years ago, the Ritz is active now, live music from Grove Roots, The Social, Union Taproom, soon to be Bowen Yard – there’s just a lot to do,” added Sexson. 


First Friday won’t be the typical tent and table market where vendors come downtown and take that money back out. This event is a celebration of all things local – a heartbeat in the pulse of downtown. “We want people to enter the retailers, the restaurants, and support the local businesses,” said Sexson.  

With many local retailers closing at 5, those on the 9-5 grind can’t always make it in time to shop the stores they love. First Friday gives the opportunity to patronize businesses beyond their usual hours so you can shop ‘til you drop from 5-9 pm. 


“Every participating business is encouraged to offer something unique for First Friday, whether it’s a drink special, a special menu item, a sale, an interactive activity, or a live performer,” noted Venrick. A complete list of participating businesses and their specials can be found at winterhavenfirstfriday.com


Over time, Destroyer looks to grow First Friday. They hope to have a spacious outdoor stage for live music and approval to carry alcoholic beverages around downtown so you can cheers from Avenue C NW to SW. 


Events like First Friday are the lifeblood of a community, spotlighting local businesses and providing entertainment for the whole family. “Events are an invitation. We’re inviting people to come downtown. We want to give them a reason to do so. It takes a lot to get people out of their routine,” said Sexson. “Creating First Friday generates more excitement. There’s something extra for you to come down. Whether that’s food and drink specials or the retailers open late, it supports local. Supporting local matters, and I think that light is shining brighter than ever. First Friday adds a little stardust on all those topics. Hopefully, you have such a good time you come back the next day, the next week.”


In addition to weekly and monthly events like the Winter Haven Farmers Market, Slow Roll & Ski Show, and First Friday, Destroyer Media & Marketing plans to launch more festivals and individual events throughout the year. “We will also be active in the new Bowen Yard development that’s opening – doing some programming and some events there,” said Sexson. 


Venrick added, “Any future events we schedule will be hyperlocal and a celebration of everything here. That’s always what we try to do with our events.”

FB & IG @whfirstfriday 

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