Becoming a local: a first First Friday

First timers experience the timeless Juneau tradition of First Friday

By CAITLIN BURNHAM
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
If you venture to Downtown Juneau on the first Friday of the month, you might find some live music, a few tasty treats and a lot of crowded businesses. Aptly named First Friday, the hustle and bustle is a monthly gathering to celebrate the arts and culture community in Juneau.
Galleries, spice companies and many other local shops come together to show off artists and create a haven for community members. Business owners open their doors to passersby to show off their featured artists of the month, even sometimes offering one-night-only discounts.
One of the featured artists of this month was Dorolyn Alper at Juneau Artist’s Gallery. Standing right by the entrance of the gallery, she could greet anyone who walked in the door. This is one of the most unique aspects of First Friday: getting to meet the artists. Whenever someone stopped by her work, Alper was willing to talk about her creative process and even explain some of her inspiration.
“It gets people out and talking to each other,” Alper said about the event. “Maybe it will inspire you to do some art.”
A regular attendee of First Fridays, Alper even offered a helpful tip for first timers by saying Juneau Artist’s Gallery is “known as having the best snacks.”
While the local art and good snacks bring people downtown, it’s really the community that keeps them there. Leslie Rubbo, co-owner of Harbor Tea and Spice, said that the community is her favorite part of each month’s First Friday.
“I love that there’s already this established time that people gather, and the stores are able to host this wonderful event and know that the community’s going to participate,” Rubbo said. “You put out a few little snacks and some fun little things and make an event of it … it’s just fun.”
This sentiment was echoed throughout the night, as friends joined up for photos and neighbors chatted between bites of cheese. Locals are quick to encourage and include newcomers, especially in pointing out the monthly favorites. If you are looking to find the heart of Juneau, look no farther than First Fridays.
Next month’s event will be October 5, but if you are looking for the best possible First Friday experience, locals suggest you head downtown for the gallery walk in December. But if you think you can go to only one month’s event and get the full experience, you might have the wrong impression.
“Every month is different,” Alper said. “That’s what’s really fun.”

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