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Live from Ludington

July 13, 2018

Friday Night Live returns with expanded area, activities

It’s been a staple of summer activity in Ludington for more than a decade, but Friday Night Live still has some surprises in store for residents and visitors as the first night of the four-week series kicks off on Friday.

The annual live music, arts and entertainment festival starts at 6 p.m. in downtown Ludington, and all the familiar events and activities will be present, along with some new additions, according to Jen Tooman of the Downtown Development Authority, which organizes the event in conjunction with a host of local sponsors.

For starters, Friday Night Live will be bigger than ever before — literally.

Tooman said the area for the event has been expanded to accommodate the 8,000 to 10,000 people who flock to James Street on Friday evenings in July and August.

“If anything, it’s getting bigger,” Tooman said of the average turnout for the events. “We just want to make it comfortable for everyone at the event and we want people to have their space.”

The expanded area will stretch two blocks farther south on James Street and one block east to Robert Street than in previous years.

“We’re more spread out,” Tooman said. “We’ve had some bigger activities like the Old Engine Club come through, and Ludington Avenue was getting packed, so this will spread everything out and it will be easier to navigate.”

The expansion will also help with one of the event’s primary missions by exposing people to more of the area, according to Tooman.

“People will see more of the downtown,” she said. “That’s the mission of the whole event, to bring people downtown.”

Also new this year is a teen area, which the DDA set up with the help of Nate Petersen, owner of Backstage Hobbies & Games. The store will help add to the festive atmosphere with a variety of games and activities for teens.

“Every year we try to put something out in front of the shop for Friday Night Live. We’ll be over there with the board games and stuff like that,” Petersen said. “We wanted to do something a bit bigger for the community this year with Friday Night Live, so we’ll have some space where we have different games to play.”

In addition to board games like Monopoly and popular competitive card games, Petersen is also planning to bring some larger game displays and sets to the teen space this summer.

Music

The lineup for this year’s Friday Night Live events features a wider variety of musical genres than in the past, Tooman said, adding that an effort was made to represent more genres.

“With the music, we really tried to expand from the average classic rock cover bands,” Tooman said. “I think we’re a town that really loves live music, so the more I can bring in different varieties and genres (the better).

“It’s just to give people experiences they wouldn’t necessarily be able to get year-round,” she said.

Friday will feature country music from Nashville’s Aberdeen, local band Road Less Traveled, the West Michigan Fair singing competition and magic, caricatures and balloon animals by John Marek.

See the Scene in Thursday’s Ludington Daily News print and e-Editions for the full story

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