First Friday and Second Saturday struggle to rebound after pandemic

In the wake of the pandemic shutdown, efforts to revitalize First Friday in Cold Spring and Second Saturday in Beacon — events designed to entice visitors and shoppers — have been spotty and foot traffic in general is down, said shop owners surveyed during a walk down both Main Streets.

In Cold Spring, the Chamber of Commerce promotes First Fridays, encouraging stores to stay open late and hold special sales or events. Before the pandemic, the chamber handed out orange flags for merchants to place outside their shops to signal their participation. It also prints posters.

Earlier this month, on Sept. 1, only three shops displayed the flags and most stores closed at their regular time. Last year, First Friday ran from May to October; this year it ended a month earlier.

“It’s really an art gallery thing, but there aren’t many left in Cold Spring,” said Martee Levi of Buster Levi Gallery at 121 Main St.

On Sept. 1, Levi served wine, cheese and sweets as a dozen people milled about inside the gallery and on the sidewalk. Studio Tashtego, at 158 Main St., the only other gallery on the thoroughfare, closed at its normal time but offered a 15 percent First Friday discount. J. Murphy’s had music and Foundry Montessori offered two hours of free babysitting.

“It requires a commitment by businesses and community — it’s not an overnight thing” to build, said Erin Murphy, chair of the Main Street Committee of the Cold Spring Chamber, although she added, referring to the pandemic shutdown, “second years are always better than the first year back.

“Some businesses are consistent and some participate only once in a while,” she said. “Some businesses are new to it this year and maybe they’ll be more consistent next year if they think it’s beneficial to partake and offer their own spin.”

Pamela Zaremba at BAU Gallery, which times its art openings to Second Saturday
Pamela Zaremba at BAU Gallery, which times its art openings to Second Saturday (Photo by M. Ferris)

Doug Price’s Pretty Good Pub bustled with customers on Sept. 1. “I’m on board with anything to encourage people to go out, but you have to be creative and have more going on,” he said. “People come home from work on Fridays and feed the kids or settle in. It should be something like Last Saturday.”

Cold Spring restaurants, along with Flowercup Wine and Barber and Brew, do well most Fridays, but Foundry Rose leaned into the spirit on Sept. 1 with a Red, White and Rose Oyster Night and a jazz duo.

Foundry Rose typically closes at 4 p.m. but often hosts a jam on third Saturdays that continues until 9 p.m., said MaryRose Donaghy, one of the owners.

“Post-COVID is not what I expected,” she said, surveying the streetscape. Pointing to the lot next door where a pop-up food cart planned to stay for the weekend but was closed on First Friday, “there could be more energy,” she said.

At the Cold Spring General Store, the sales on First Friday this year were about the same as last year, said Assistant Manager Kylie Standish.

In Beacon, where Second Saturday began more than 25 years ago, many galleries host convivial gatherings and time their show openings to coincide with the calendar. Jake’s Main Street Music often hosts an acoustic jam session and Natalia Huang opens her piano studio.

In May, Alyssa Follansbee at Happy Valley Arcade launched a promotion where anyone who visits a Beacon gallery during Second Saturday and gets a hand stamp can receive a 10 percent discount at participating bars and restaurants.

Mor Tzivoni, who owns Miss Tea at 520 Main St., stays open an extra hour but “it’s really just another Saturday,” she said. Tzivoni is considering tastings, sound baths and herbal ceremonies to celebrate the new moon.

The Second Saturday tradition began in the 1990s when musician Thom Joyce floated the idea; BeaconArts later got involved to promote it.

“Our role over time has changed,” said Matthew Agoglia, the president of BeaconArts. “We used to print a map and have arts walks, but no one wants printed maps anymore — it’s got to be online. We’re more of an information hub and advertise and promote events held by our members.

“We don’t have any role in hosting events anymore — it has always been a joint effort between the business community and the artist community,” he said. “The tools for communications used by small businesses and artists are so sophisticated these days, but we are here to foster alliances and spread the word.”

He added: “Rumor has it that there is a Beacon Chamber of Commerce, and we would like to work with them.” (The chamber has been inactive for a number of years, with sporadic efforts to revive it.)

Second Saturday Openings (Oct. 14)

A Collaborative Portrait of a Community
1 – 4 p.m. Howland Public Library
313 Main St. | 845-831-1134
This exhibit of photos, presented as part of a project exploring the lives of residents affected by urban renewal, documents the West End community. Through December. A preview of the Rise Up student film, Lines of Demarcation, Memories from Beacon’s Black Communities of the 20th Century, will be screened, as well.

Making Marks
4 – 7 p.m. Garage Gallery
17 Church St. |
Lily Prince’s landscapes and Stephen Grossman’s drawings will be on view through Oct. 29.

TNT Plastic | Grizzly Workshops Ecoplasm
5 – 9 p.m. Clutter Gallery
139 Main St.
212-255-2505 |
Figures and multiples from the artists will be on view through Nov. 3.

At 80 — A Retrospective
6 – 8 p.m. Lofts at Beacon
18 Front St.
845-202-7211 |
More than 50 years of work by Robert W. Paschal, including ink drawings, multimedia and acrylics, will be on view through Oct. 31.

Robyn Ellenbogen | Clara Curbera | Linda Lauro-Lazin
6 – 8 p.m. BAU Gallery
506 Main St. |
Ellenbogen’s multimedia work, Looking Toward Avalokitesvara, will be on view in Gallery 1. Curbera’s paintings, Apple of Your Eye, will be in Gallery 2, and Lauro-Lazin’s digital work will be in the Beacon Room. Through Nov. 5.

6 – 9 p.m. Super Secret Projects
484 Main St.
The group show will be on view through Nov. 4.

In Spirit
7 – 9 p.m. LotusWorks Gallery
261 Main St. |
The group show will include work by 18 artists. Through Nov. 11.

7 – 9:30 p.m. Distortion Society
172 Main St. |
Laura Bochet’s solo exhibition of paintings explores the feeling of memory in the body. Through Dec. 2.

Hugo Ball Night
8 p.m. Howland Cultural Center
477 Main St.
Ball and the Dada movement will be celebrated with a lecture, poetry reading and musical performances. Cost: $15

Although Second Saturdays is entrenched, the scene is split between each end of Main Street. Clutter Gallery, Marion Royael Gallery and Hudson Beach Glass, which triangulate where Main and Cross streets meet, provide a hopping party on the west side.

Garage Gallery, located a half block north of Main Street on North Elm Street, holds openings from 4 to 7 p.m. On the east end, the Howland Center displays art from 1 to 5 p.m. every Saturday. BAU Gallery and Super Secret Projects Gallery in the back of Hyperbole clothing store host festivities that go deeper into the evening.

“We serve wine and people hang out with the artists,” said Carolyn Baccaro at Hyperbole. “It’s like a little salon speakeasy back there.”

Openings at BAU Gallery “are so much fun,” said Pamela Zaremba, a member of the Beacon Artists Union, which runs the space. “We’ve had music, a poetry reading, a belly dancer and performance art, so we’re thinking about other ways to draw people in.”

No one revels in Second Saturdays like Clutter Gallery, the only one to fly in an artist from England to this month’s event and to remain open past 10 p.m.

It offers adult beverages to passersby of legal drinking age, which can sometimes be a hard sell. But it’s fun to repose on the benches in front of the store and watch the human parade, even if it has thinned out.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Marc Ferris is a freelance journalist based in Croton-on-Hudson.

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