Rifle set to party on with First Friday entertainment all summer long

Nelson Harvey
Citizen Telegram Contributor
Ryan Mackley/Contributed Photo
Staff Photo |

A bike tour of downtown, an improvisational comedy happy hour, live music and a local artists showcase are just a few of the attractions at Rifle’s first-ever First Friday celebration, tomorrow, June 7, in downtown Rifle.

In hosting the festivities, Rifle joins the ranks of communities across the country that have adopted the First Friday of every month as a time to stimulate local businesses, highlight homegrown arts and culture, and throw a good party.

“We decided that increasing events in the downtown area was a key point that we wanted to focus on,” said Dana Ingram, coordinator of the Main Street Rifle program, which is co-hosting First Friday along with the city of Rifle.

The idea for the event, Ingram said, came out of Rifle’s ongoing quest to become an official “Main Street Community,” a program offered by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

As part of that effort, Ingram is also spearheading a downtown cleanup crew and soliciting several downtown murals from local artists. She said she hopes First Friday will compliment these efforts in beautifying and revitalizing Rifle’s central business district.

The First Friday concept has been hugely popular in nearby Carbondale, whose monthly, townwide party now attracts people from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and has become a boon for local bars and restaurants.

In addition to discounts at taverns like Sammy’s on Park Avenue and the Texan Bar, Rifle’s inaugural First Friday will feature a car show from 6-7 p.m. at the corner of West Second Street and Railroad Avenue, as well as live music from local jazz musician Walt Smith at the Creekbend Bistro from 6-8 p.m.

Another event will look to Rifle’s future, with a discussion of how to make Rifle a more bicycle-friendly community.

That event, to take place at 2 p.m. at the Rifle Branch Library, will be followed by a bike tour of downtown Rifle led by transportation planner Terri Musser of the firm Charlier and Associates. Musser will lead a discussion of how to improve on-street riding, better the city’s trail system, and augment riverfront access and biker safety, among other considerations.

The bike tour is being funded by an $806,000 federal transportation planning grant that Rifle received in 2011.

“It’s part of the downtown strategic plan, to help connections between the downtown and other parts of town,” said city Planning Director Nathan Lindquist.

Aside from seeing the city’s bike infrastructure firsthand, participants will map out potential bike lanes and consider how to bridge gaps in the city’s trail system.

Although existing bike lanes in Rifle are limited, Lindquist noted that the city has recently been installing some bike lanes on a piecemeal basis. There is one on Acacia Avenue, he said, and another on Fifth Street.

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