2nd Fridays continue to draw huge crowds; big plans for August, September

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Laith Al Dijaili, an event attendee, looks on as his dog plays with bubbles at 2nd Fridays in downtown Cullman. (Hayden Hyatt for The Tribune)

CULLMAN – Cullman’s Warehouse District was filled to capacity Friday evening, as droves of people came out to enjoy food, live music, games, classic cars and to support local businesses at this year's second installment of 2nd Fridays, a Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event.

The free event featured three different stages for live music. There were games like cornhole, a rock climbing wall and bouncy houses set up for the many children who came out. Car enthusiasts brought out more than 200 modern and vintage classic cars to display for the event. Many different local businesses and artists were selling wares at the event, also.

William Burks, of Burks Farm, had some tables set up for his vegetables at the Cullman Farmers’ Market. Burks spoke to The Tribune about why these events are so important for farmers’ market vendors.

“Well, it brings in an opportunity for a different crowd. The ones that work during the week, that aren't able to come during the day to the regular market,” explained Burks. “It allows them to have a time to come the market to get fresh vegetables and participate in other things going on with the event itself. If they see something that they like, then they might come on the regular days, especially at the market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.”

Frankie Daniel, who brought one of his antique cars to display, said of the remarkable attendance for the event, “Pretty good turnout for Cullman. It's been about two years since I've been to this. It's pretty big tonight.”

One of the most popular food vendors was Johnny’s Bar-B-Q. Manager Josh Wiggins was manning the restaurants food truck. Wiggins, who has participated in 2nd Fridays since the events started, said he has seen the event grow as time has gone on.

“We were one of the first food trucks to do it back when it started,” said Wiggins. “I think it's been two or three years and it's really come a long way. It's huge. It's become a huge success if you ask me.”

Leah Bolin, president and CEO of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, has noticed the growth of the event, too.

“We started it as a way to think local and shop local so it's great for our retailers and our restaurants,” Bolin said. “But then we expanded on those ideas and we brought in all of our different members through pop-up shops and our artists. Every year we grow a little bit more.”

Bolin also spoke to The Tribune about the benefits these events bring to the Cullman business community.

“It's a really fun way to bring all of our chamber members together in a central locations so they can really promote what they are doing,” explained Bolin. “Then we get all of these people from outside and inside of Cullman County, to expose them to the great things that our area has to offer.”

Bolin also remarked about the attendance at the events.

“We definitely have thousands of people that attend each month, and every month it builds on the next,” she said. “So by the time we hit September, you won't even be able to walk around. It's going to be great.”

The event is a great time for almost anyone according to Bolin. “There's something for everybody, whether you're a young family with young children or you're an elderly couple or anybody in between. It's just a really fun night just to come out for a family night in a clean, fun, safe environment and just enjoy the night.”

The chamber has more fun in store for future 2nd Fridays events, said Bolin. “Next month we're going to feature RVs and then after that were going to do kind of a fun little carnival thing for September. Next month were going to do a Furry 5K and 1-mile family fun walk and a lot of dog and fun activities in Depot Park.”

Bolin continued, “Then in September we’re going to do a really big corn hole tournament for cash prizes. People will be signing up from really all over the United States to be part of that. We're super excited about the band we've got because they're a Nashvillian band and they're about on the tipping point. Their name is Dozzi and they're from Australia where they've already hit it big. We're really going to be blowing it out of the water in September.”

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