Just 50 years ago, unpaved Main Street was literally Payson's main street and a gathering place for social events.
The Main Street Merchants advertising co-op wants to see those days return and businesses are offering evening hours this Friday for a pleasant walk (or drive) down the historic, lamp-lit street.
"Main Street is in the midst of a resurgence, and yet, even today, some people think Highway 87 is Main Street," said committee chairman Mike Stewart of Gasoline Alley. "The Main Street Merchant's Guild was formed to correct that misconception and reintroduce this area, which contains so much of Payson's history."
One of the first events sponsored by the Guild is First Friday on Main Street: Art and Antiques Walk from 5 to 8 p.m.
The first First Friday will be held this week, May 4.
The event is designed to be a fun way for local residents and tourists to enjoy an evening out and become more familiar with the many services, shops and art galleries that are on Main Street.
"Payson has become a center for antiques and art," Stewart said.
"It is exciting to see so many of the merchants coming together to promote Main Street," Main Street program manager Carol McCauley said.
As the year progresses, Main Street Merchants will plan more activities.
"With the beautiful park and lakes, museums and great businesses on Main Street, we feel it's in everyone's best interests to work toward increasing the area's visibility to as many folks as we can," said Brenda Mooney of Bootleg Alley Antiques and Art.
Down the Street Art Gallery plans to hold its monthly featured artist receptions in conjunction with First Friday.
Geri Wood Gettings is May's featured artist at Down the Street. Her current "canvases" are not flat, but are the curved bodies of gourds.
Gettings also does commissioned portraits of pets and people in oils, as well as florals and Southwest landscapes.
Pam Frandrich is a guest artist at Down the Street. Her employment with an international airline allows her to photograph exotic locations in Greece, France and Italy and re-create them in her oil or acrylic paintings. Gettings and Frandrich will both be doing demonstrations during the reception.
Most of the retail merchants on Main Street are participating in First Friday, including several that Stewart said were unable to commit for May, but now have the June 1, July 6 and Aug. 3 First Fridays on their calendars.
Stewart believes the event will continue to build momentum and grow in popularity.
"It's like ‘Field of Dreams'," Stewart said, "If we build it, they will come."