Little Rock, AR (2 May 2006). As the River Market prepares to enter its second decade, it is time to reflect on past successes. One of these achievements is certainly the “Big Downtown Thursdays” concert series traditionally held in May and September.
“Big Downtown Thursdays” was begun to create a sense of excitement in downtown Little Rock. “Looking at the bustling activity seven days a week, it seems hard to believe that there once was no vitality in downtown after 5pm and on weekends,” said River Market Manager Shannon Light.
The success of “Big Downtown Thursdays” showed that Little Rock citizens of all ages and races were longing for the opportunity to mingle, to enjoy live entertainment, and to celebrate what Little Rock has to offer. In the ensuing years, “Big Downtown Thursdays” became just one of many opportunities to experience live music in the heart of downtown. The River Market music scene has grown from twenty nights a year (including Riverfest and Pops on the River) to hundreds of nights at various venues.
“Big Downtown Thursdays” also served to promote the River Market pavilions and Julius Breckling Riverfront Park as venues for events. The pavilions are now used over 200 days a year and play host to a variety of events that cater to the diverse Little Rock citizenry. From April through October, the pavilions may be used two or three times a day not including use as an outdoor lunchtime dining location.
As the River Market looks forward, it is time to pursue new opportunities. “Thursdays are one of our most popular evenings for event requests,” said Light. “Though ‘Big Downtown Thursdays’ will no longer be taking place, there will still be much activity going on at the River Market and all along President Clinton Avenue. Now, more than ever, there are numerous opportunities to shop, visit with friends, enjoy live music, and experience the River Market district on Thursdays and every night of the week.”
“Because you can listen to live music in the River Market almost every night of the year, ‘Big Downtown Thursdays’ had lost their novelty,” said Light. “Attendance was still good. But there was not much noticeable difference in overall River Market district traffic on ‘Big Downtown Thursdays’ evening and other Thursdays.”
“As we are looking at our second decade, it made sense to direct our small staff and limited resources into new areas,” stated Light. “This is an exciting time for the River Market District and Riverfront Park. In the coming months, the Medical Mile will be completed as well as the improvements to the Park, and the Nature Center construction is underway. We look forward to the new opportunities these developments will offer.”