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First Thursday events to feature live music, performers, vendors, and food.

HOLLY M. GILL - The new Downtown Park and Play group is planning to hold First Thursday events, beginning June 7, in downtown Madras, on Fifth Street, between C and E streets. The events will include live music and performances, and food and retail vendors.Madras' newly formed Downtown Park and Play organization will present the first event in a series of summer events that will be kicking off on June 7.

The events will bring live music, performers, food, and retail vendors to the downtown area of Madras on the first Thursdays of the month from 5-9 p.m., June through September this year. The entertainment will be held along Fifth Street from C to E Street.

"This is a dynamic group of business owners who are passionate about seeing growth in the downtown area and are committed to making these events fun for a variety of ages and cultures in our community," said Mayor Royce Embanks. "I think there's a little something for everyone."

Embanks has a wood-carving studio downtown that will be open during First Thursdays, when he and other artists will be giving demonstrations and selling their wares.

Thanks to a core group of downtown business owners who connected with the city of Madras, the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, and the Let's Talk Diversity Coalition, the effort comes to Madras' downtown to provide opportunities for the community to join together for family-friendly, multicultural events, and to increase downtown revitalization and business commerce.

"During the recent community survey, respondents made two things very clear — they wanted more events to bring the community together and they wanted improvements downtown. We believe First Thursdays are an inroad to both," said Lysa Vattimo, communications specialist for the city of Madras.

"We're offering opportunities for food trucks, retail vendors, and street performers to be a part of these events and are asking our community to be supportive by attending and bringing their friends," said Rebecca Keegan, co-owner of Wild Bleu, where live music will take place, in addition to other family-friendly activities. Participating businesses will be offering specials and discounts at their establishments during the events.

First-year funding for these events was provided in part by grants endowed by the city of Madras and the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council's Meyer Memorial Trust to support Rural Equitable Economic Development projects.

If you're interested in being a vendor or performer at the events, or just want more information, visit their website at www.downtownparkandplay.com.

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