Main Street in Payson is where the town’s first commercial center developed, with residences, the school and church growing up around it.
As the town continued to grow, the old Main Street area began to decline, but in May 2007, it once again became the town gathering place.
At the monthly Main Street Merchants’ meeting, owners of four businesses — Bootleg Alley Arts and Antiques, Gasoline Alley, Artists of the Rim and Down the Street Art Gallery — started an event that gave townsfolk and tourists a monthly opportunity to enjoy music, food, camaraderie and special sales. This event was named First Friday on Main Street Art and Antiques Walk.
Carol McCauley, town director for Main Street Development at the time, said, “It is exciting to see so many of the merchants come together to promote Main Street.”
Now, three years later, First Friday on Main Street continues to be a fun way for local residents and visitors to have an evening out and become more familiar with the many products and services available on Historic Main Street.
“It is in everyone’s interest to work toward increasing the area’s visibility to as many folks as we can,” said Brenda Mooney of Bootleg Alley.
Over the past three years, each First Friday has brought merchants a steady flow of traffic. Musicians can be heard up and down Main Street. Artists are featured in the area’s galleries and authors are hosted for book signings. Benefits are held for various organizations such as the Humane Society of Central Arizona and the food bank. Monthly themes bring out colorful decorations. Many stores and galleries offer special sales during First Friday hours. Some even award door prizes.
Not only are merchants involved in First Friday activities, but nonprofit entities such as the Community Presbyterian Church, Humane Society and Payson Senior Center and Thrift Store also participate.
The Senior Center long has been an active part of Main Street. It opened its doors in October 1979 in the building where the Boys’ Outreach is now housed. The current multi-purpose Senior Center at 514 W. Main St. was first constructed and used as a bowling alley. That building burned down and was rebuilt for use as a skating rink, which later became the Senior Center. The companion building next door at 512 W. Main St. where the Thrift Store is located was originally the Payson post office.
The dual themes from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, May 7 are a third anniversary celebration and Cinco de Mayo.
At Green Mountain Emporium, visitors may enjoy the smooth sounds of Gary Cordell. Owner JoAnn Johnston will serve anniversary cake.
A concert with John Carpino will take place at Bootleg Alley Antiques and Art. Chef Gary Bedsworth will be grilling brats from Charlie’s Meats on Bootleg Alley’s porch. For $5, diners can purchase a brat with all the trimmings, chips and a soda. All net proceeds benefit the Humane Society. See’s Chocolates can be purchased from the Soroptimists and donations can be made at the Humane Society table.
The Senior Center will offer music for dancing by Bob and Helen from Rye Bar. Tacos, salsa and chips and soft drinks will be available at a modest cost.
The Thrift Store will have live music by Wayne Todd, refreshments, hourly door prizes and a 10 percent discount on purchases.
Down the Street Art Gallery is having a salsa tasting competition. Competitors are Linda Nannizzi, Michael Richardson and the winner of the competition held at the Payson High School culinary class.
The Humane Society Thrift Shop will also participate in the salsa contest. LeRoy Watson has graciously accepted the challenge and is making his famous salsa for the shop.
While tasting Watson’s salsa, check out the inventory, including sets of dishes, miscellaneous plates, saucers and bowls and all drinking glasses at half price.
The Community Presbyterian Church will have a spaghetti dinner with entertainment.
Serving from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the dinner includes a green salad, roll and beverage with the spaghetti for just $5. Dine in, or take out. Bob Morgan will provide entertainment on the keyboard with great tunes from the past.
There will also be a great bake sale with terrific treats to purchase for your dessert.
All proceeds go to the CPC Child Learning Center for the children’s summer activities.
Artists of the Rim Gallery will have a reception for its featured artist for May, Leslie Peacock, who’s wearable art has won numerous awards.
She is a California transplant to the Rim Country, moving here five years ago with her husband, Steve.
Since arriving, she has participated in area quilting exhibitions, the Northern Gila County Fair and has taught her techniques to students at Gila Community College (their work, and that of other quilting students will be displayed May 5 at the college).
So, celebrate May, salsa and the third anniversary of the First Friday on Main Street Art and Antiques Walk from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, May 7 on Payson’s Historic Main Street.