Artists’ Alley adds new flair to growing 2nd Fridays


In Artists’ Alley, visitors can shop for works by local artists, and even watch some work live. / W.C. Mann

At the end of the day, it’s more than a festival.  It’s helping the people of our community to be successful.”
Leah Bolin, president, Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce

CULLMAN – On Friday evening the Warehouse District was just coming to life as many folks’ work days and weeks were winding down.  A collaborative effort between the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce (CoC) and Cullman Parks and Recreation (CP&R), “2nd Fridays” brings together downtown merchants, the Farmers’ Market, entertainers, car collectors, and others on the second Friday of each month June-Sept. for a lively street party.

CoC President Leah Bolin shared a little about the event. “We’ve had something similar to 2nd Fridays for about four years now, but we’ve really dubbed the new version of this, starting last year.  Our goal was just to find something unique and fun that our stores and all our restaurants could participate in, and the spotlight’s really on all of them.  Then, surrounding them, we’ve added a lot of really fun things: the cruise-in cars, the kid zones, all the different music we’ve got going on, and artists.”

Most merchants in the event area will stay open until late into the evening; the events run from 5-10 p.m., from the Festhalle all the way down First Avenue Southeast to U.S. Highway 278, and along side streets.

“Ultimately,” said Bolin, “we would love to keep going all the way to Busy Bee, so that all of our merchants can participate and feel like they’re part of the event.”

New for 2017…

New to 2nd Fridays this year is Artists’ Alley, an actual side street alley where local artists can display their wares for sale or event demonstrate their crafts right on the spot.

Bolin related, “We just brought this in this year.  This has been a passion of mine since I’ve been at the chamber, to really work on our cultural arts venues here.  We’ve got about two dozen booths; over half of those are very specific to the arts.  Our ultimate goal is to take Artists’ Alley, and stretch every single booth along both sides, to make it a true crawl as you go through.  I know we’ll reach that over time, and move our pop-up shops (non-art retail booths) on down to some different areas.”

Local Artist Laura Walker worked with Bolin to coordinate Artists’ Alley.  She explained, “I do festivals for a living, and I really appreciate that they consulted an artist to know what should be done.  (Bolin) has a whole crew that’s really creative.  We’re all brainstorming; every suggestion I told her, she did.  I’m hoping that will help make this a truly professional artists’ alley.

“Cullman has some amazing artists; many of them have to have other full-time jobs, but they have the talent.  I collect a lot of art from Cullman artists; I’m just so excited about the talent we have.  I would love to see more Cullman artists take part.”

To the Cullman community at large, Walker advised, “It’s important to vote for the kind of town you want.  You vote with your money, you vote with your presence.  If you want a town that promotes original art and artists, then come here and buy from them.”

With expanded street coverage and additions like Artists’ Alley, 2nd Fridays seems to be enjoying steady growth with no end in sight.  Bolin couldn’t be happier.

“We’re really excited about what’s happened,” she concluded.  “Last month kind of blew everybody away, and we’re anticipating another good month this month.  I checked with our stores, as well as our artists, and all of them seemed to have some sales, as well as a lot of foot traffic.  At the end of the day, it’s more than a festival.  It’s helping the people of our community to be successful.  And if that happens, then I’m one happy camper!”

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