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Downtown Film Series brings community together with entertainment and films

Downtown Film Series _ May Poster2

The first night of the brand new Downtown Film Series kicks off tonight, Friday, May 3 at 8 pm at the Turner Pavilion in downtown Harrisonburg! This “Flashback Night” will feature storytelling about Harrisonburg in the past, selections from the local Super Gr8 Film Festival, and a variety of vendors, including local food trucks, restaurants, and merchants.

We at Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance are thrilled to announce the inaugural season of the Downtown Film Series. The primary goal of this series is to bring the community together to enjoy local-focused pre-film entertainment and short films in a variety of cultural topics.

Did you know that downtown Harrisonburg is the first Arts & Cultural District in the state of Virginia? We’re proud of this designation and are working hard through our own initiatives and in partnership with other area organizations to enhance this recognition by providing arts programming  throughout the year. The Downtown Film Series is our newest initiative to do just that!

We have strategically scheduled the series to take place on the first Friday of May, September, and October (May 3, September 6, and October 4) to complement First Fridays Downtown and give you yet another reason to start your weekend off right in downtown Harrisonburg.

First Fridays Downtown exhibits and promotions are held from 5:00 to 8:00 pm on the first Friday of every month throughout the year at 33 downtown locations. Check out the First Fridays Downtown schedule on the Arts Council of the Valley website. On the first Fridays of May, September, and October, the Downtown Film Series will begin after the exhibits, with pre-film entertainment at 8:00 pm and films at 9:00 pm.

Fridays on the Square concerts will be held on the first Fridays of June, July, and August to further expand First Fridays Downtown. This means that you can plan on a full night of art, entertainment, and food in downtown Harrisonburg during the first Fridays of May through October.

Community members enjoy a performance by The Nighthawks at the 2012 season opener of Fridays on the Square. Photo courtesy of the Fridays on the Square Facebook page.

Community members enjoy a performance by The Nighthawks at the 2012 season opener of Fridays on the Square. Photo courtesy of the Fridays on the Square Facebook page.

All events in the Downtown Film Series will be held at the Turner Pavilion, behind the Harrisonburg City Municipal Building, and are free and open to the public. Bring your own chairs or blanket and settle in for some great entertainment!

Crowds gather in the Turner Pavilion for a musical performance. Photo courtesy of the Fridays on the Square Facebook page.

Crowds gather in the Turner Pavilion for a musical performance. Photo courtesy of the Fridays on the Square Facebook page.

Not only will each night have a special theme, but local vendors, including merchants, restaurants, and food trucks, will create a festival-like atmosphere where you can chat with local businesses, shop, and enjoy a snack or picnic dinner.

Left: Carl Strite, owner of Strite's Donuts, prepares a selection of donuts for a hungry crowd. Right: The Strite's Donuts food truck. Photos courtesy of the Strite's Donuts Facebook page.

Left: Carl Strite, owner of Strite’s Donuts, prepares a selection of donuts for a hungry crowd. Right: The Strite’s Donuts food truck. Photos courtesy of the Strite’s Donuts Facebook page.

For our first year, each night in the series will feature a distinct theme:

  • May will feature a flashback to the 1960s and 1970s with storytelling from Harrisonburg residents about life in the community in the past, followed by selections from the Super Gr8 Film Festival, which features local films made on the historic Super 8 film format.
Ella Somers, one of the featured filmmakers from the Super Gr8 Film Festival, works on her film. Photo by Paul Somers.

Ella Somers, one of the featured filmmakers from the Super Gr8 Film Festival, works on her film. Photo by Paul Somers.

  • September will be a part of the Student Night edition of First Fridays Downtown that welcomes college and university students to Harrisonburg and will feature pre-film entertainment by student a capella, music, theater, and dance groups, followed by student films.
  • October will kick-off local food and farm-to-table celebrations leading up to National Food Day (October 24) and will feature food tastings and cooking demos with Harrisonburg Farmers Market vendors and local chefs, followed by food-related films.

While you are enjoying pre-film entertainment, we also invite you to circulate around the pavilion and explore merchant stalls from local businesses and grab a bite to eat from local restaurant stalls and food trucks.

Grilled Cheese Mania. Photos by Nicole Martorana.

Grilled Cheese Mania. Photos by Nicole Martorana.

Some of our featured vendors throughout the season include Artisans Downtown Gallery & Gifts, Billy Jack’s Wing & Draft Shack, Blue Nile, Bluestone Vineyard, Capital Ale House, Grilled Cheese Mania, Horizons du Monde, Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint, The Lady Jane, Larkin Arts, The Polished Lady, Strite’s Donuts, and Three Brothers Brewing.

Photo courtesy of The Lady Jane Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of The Lady Jane Facebook page.

The Downtown Film Series would not be possible without our many generous sponsors and volunteers.

Event gold sponsors include Eastern Mennonite University, James McHone Jewelry, Little Grill Collective, and StellarOne Bank.

Silver sponsors include CrossKeys Vineyards, Hugo Kohl, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community and Walkabout Outfitter.

Bronze sponsors include Artisans Downtown Gallery & Gifts, Corgan’s Publick House, CubanBurger, DIGICO, Dragonflies Toys, Friendly City Food Co-op, Grilled Cheese Mania, Harrisonburg Farmers Market, The Polished Lady, Strite’s Donuts, Ten Thousand Villages, and Vito’s Italian Kitchen.

We are also grateful for our media sponsors: Daily News-Record, DB Audio Services, Rocktown Weekly, and Signs USA.

Want to learn more about the Downtown Film Series? Check out our webpage at www.DowntownHarrisonburg.org/Films and“like” the series on Facebook at Facebook.com/DowntownFilmSeries.

Nicole Martorana is the Editor of the Do Downtown blog and the Promotions Manager for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.

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