By Kelly Fulford, Clarke Central HS (Athens, Georgia)
The First Thursdays on Main event is a long standing tradition that Jeremy Becraft and One Columbia made possible to continue for the City and community of Columbia, South Carolina.
One Columbia is a non-profit organization with a focus on the art history scene in Columbia, SC, created to support the community and improve the local economy. The organization supports a variety of different events including First Thursdays on Main.
“First Thursdays on Main is an arts and culture event that is held every first Thursday of each month,” President of First Thursdays on Main Jeremy Becraft said.
While Becraft is the President of First Thursdays on Main, the event did not originate with him.
“A few years ago, the general manager who had originally come up with the concept for First Thursday here in Columbia moved his business off of Main St. and moved to west Columbia,” Becraft said.
With the event’s leader gone and no one to take over, first Thursday became a question mark to the public.
“At that time, it was kind of like what’s gonna happen to First Thursday on Main without somebody leading it?” Becraft said.
First Thursday was originally the idea of a company called City Center Partnership. Once it’s existence was threatened by leadership problems, One Columbia stepped in to get things back on track.
“So, One Columbia with Lee Snelgrove, who is the director of One Columbia, he partnered with the City Center Partnership which helps manage the downtown here, it promotes events and businesses and stuff like that downtown,” Becraft said. “City Center Partnership had asked One Columbia what they could do to help get First Thursday back on a firmer footing and help create a committee and a board that would help us going forward.”
Without the help of One Columbia and Becraft, First Thursdays might have become a thing of the past.
“ One Columbia had an integral part in that organization and still plays an integral part within how we organize and plan our events, so they’ve done a great job of taking First Thursday from where we’ve been to a really great event,” Becraft said.“They have really turned First Thursday into an event that people put on their calendar.”
With First Thursday’s back on the right track and Becraft named president of the event, thanks to One Columbia, the event was back and better than ever according to the community.
“It was so nice, when First Thursdays came back in 2011, there were bands playing on the street, there were different activities. Most of the businesses stayed open late so you could visit them while you were there. It was very family friendly, kinda like it is now,” Senior sales of the demercancile department at Mast General Store and local Colombian Mary Mims said.
The event is for everyone. It was crafted to fit the diverse population of Columbia and provide a good time to all with many different types of art and entertainment.
“There are all types of people, I’ve seen kids, older people, younger folks, all kinds. When there are bands playing outside of the store there are people dancing, having a good time,” Mast General Store Retail sales associate James Spitzer said.