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DBA, Main Street gear up for First Thursday

Posted on July 23, 2019

A crowd surrounds magician, comedian and mind reader Derrick Rose composes balloon

animals during the First Thursday event in downtown El Dorado. The summer carnival themed festivity included more

than a dozen downtown businesses that offered a variety of free games, prizes, giveaways and food,

mostly aimed at children. – Photo by Terrance Armstard

The Downtown Business Association and Main Street El Dorado are inviting the public to break out their leis and Hawaiian shirts for a luau-themed First Thursday in August.

Fittingly, the event will be held the literal first day of the month in downtown El Dorado as the latest installment of the monthly series that is designed to bring more customers to downtown businesses.

First Thursday will also double as a back-to-school bash in a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, organizers said.

The two groups will team up for the second consecutive year to host the August installment of First Thursday, in which a portion of retail sales will be donated to the BGCE.

Additionally, the DBA and Main Street will celebrate the one-year anniversary of First Thursday, which was launched in August 2018.

More details are forthcoming about the event.

Main Street board members said First Thursday in June drew the largest crowd in the 10 months since the event began.

Inclement weather — including rain, cold and sizzling temperatures — largely affected First Thursday for the first several months.

For June, DBA members decided on a carnival theme to make First Thursday more family friendly and encourage parents to bring their children downtown for a carnival-themed event with a variety of activities, including games, prizes, giveaways, food, a magician and balloon artist and a caricature artist.

Organizers noted that downtown restaurants also boosted their participation in First Thursday last month.

“I think there were a lot of people downtown who don’t typically come downtown. I saw a diverse group,” Brumley previously said.

Though attendance decreased slightly, First Thursday still drew a respectable crowd for July, MSE board members said.

With a “Wet and Wild” theme, downtown merchants offered a mix activities, including water balloon fights and crafts, such as making sand-art necklaces.

Brumley said viewers tuned in in great numbers for a live-stream of a dunking booth that featured coaches from area high school coaches.

First Thursday is part of an ongoing effort by MSE to focus more on the promotion of downtown in order to boost customer traffic for retailers

Retail shops also keep later hours during First Thursday, closing at 7 p.m. to accommodate people who do not typically get a chance to shop downtown after work.

Later retail hours was a recommendation that was included in the action plan that produced “The Festival City” brand idea and the “Showtime!” tagline for El Dorado in 2010.

“We’ve had great participation with the downtown businesses,” said Brumley. “They’re really working hard to come up with themes and creative ideas for First Thursday and other promotions.”

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or