'First Friday' celebrates 10 years in Las Vegas - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

'First Friday' celebrates 10 years in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

First Friday is celebrating 10 years in Las Vegas. The event, held downtown on the first Friday of each month, gives artists a chance to shine and art lovers something to look forward to.

You might not have known it was a birthday celebration on Friday. There were no big signs or party hats, just thousands of people walking around, enjoying themselves. Ten years ago, that was just a dream.

"Good food and the music is fun - and of course it's free," said attendee Travis Edwards.

Back in 2002, the first event attracted a small fraction of today's attendance.

"We had no expectations of what it would be. I think we had attendance of 300 at the first one and we were wowed," said First Friday founder Cindy Funkhouser.

Funkhouser relinquished the reins a year ago, during a time when First Friday was on the brink of extinction.

First Friday is now attracting crowds of up to 25,000, according to managing partner Joey Vanas.

Vanas and others stepped in with funding from online shoe retailer Zappos. Now there is more food available than ever before, as well as pumpkin and body painting.

"There's been a lot of money pumped in thanks to Zappos. That's really made the Arts District something of a cultural event. Something it should be," said Ross Gibson, artistic director of Circus Couture, an arts event that benefits charities.

"It's just wonderful. Otherwise, I think my business would be folding down. I'd be out of here," said Subrena Funk, owner of Funky Wire Work Jewelry.

Funk said the event supplies her with contacts and customers who have kept her business afloat through the months and years.

October will also mark the introduction of the First Friday Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at supporting artists.

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