Fathering at First FridaySep 14, 2022 08:53AM ● By Matthew Jones
Have you ever been out to downtown Fredericksburg for their First Friday celebration? You should, it’s fun! On the first Friday of every month, a bunch of restaurants and stores downtown stay open late with special events, and there’s usually lots of live music around. Plus the “sip and stroll” event lets you buy an adult beverage and walk around downtown with it! I went out the other week for September’s First Friday. I gave the wife some alone time and took the kids by myself out to explore downtown. We headed out around 7 p.m. I usually try to start getting them ready for bed around then, but I decided it was worth a late night to go out and have some fun!
We parked over by J. Brian’s and walked up Caroline towards William Street. Within the first couple blocks, we passed a deejay on the street and a guy playing guitar, along with crowds of people. But I was specifically looking for someone, and I found him! The Walking Disco (known during the day as Seth Casana) was out dishing up music like he is most First Fridays. This is the first time I got out to see him, and was glad the kids and I were able to catch him! Seth graciously spun my kids’ current favorite on his turntables - ABBA's Mama Mia. We all danced to a double-header of ABBA hits, and gathered a sizable crowd! Though I couldn’t say if they were more interested in Seth’s disco-ball-helmeted antics or my kids flailing around.
We crossed the street to Curitiba Art Cafe. If you haven’t been there, you should check it out, it’s a neat little coffee shop with a cocktail bar inside as well. I take my kids there occasionally to get pastries after music class on Sundays. I was hoping to grab a sweetie for the kids (chocolate croissant, anyone?) and a cocktail for myself. But Benny complained that the live band was “too loud” (despite it being an acoustic duo), so we made our way back out through the crowd. I went right next door to Capital Alehouse and got myself a beer, though. I felt a little awkward waiting at a bar while my children rolled around on the floor next to me. But there was a lady with an infant in a stroller right next to me also waiting for a beer, so I didn’t feel too bad.
It was First Friday, so I was able to take my beer to go! Since we weren’t able to get any sweeties from Curitiba, we walked another block to Abner B’s ice cream shop. I got each kid a small ice cream, which was more than enough for Lily to make a huge chocolatey 2-year-old mess all over her dress. No ice cream for me, alas, since I’m lactose intolerant. I stuck with beer (thank you very much). We stood outside and the kids ate their ice cream. At one point, Lily dripped some ice cream on the ground. Before I knew what was happening, she had laid down on the sidewalk and started licking it up. I could have stopped her—sure I could have—but it was like a slow-motion train wreck. I couldn’t stop watching. So sue me; she has a very robust immune system.
I considered heading home, but then remembered that my friend’s band was playing that night! Robyn Bauer, violinist extraordinaire (among many other skills), plays fiddle for local '90s & '00s cover band, Brisk. They had a gig at Billiken’s Smokehouse that night, just a couple of blocks away. So I coaxed the kids down the street to Billikens. It was packed! We made our way to the stage in the large outdoor area out back. There was a dance floor up front surrounded by glorious pebbles and wonderful dirt, which my children immediately started playing in. The band started playing, and we all loved it! The kids alternated dancing on the dance floor and digging in the dirt.
We stayed through several songs but finally called it a night around 9:30 p.m. I carried the kids back to the car, and they both fell asleep on the 5-minute ride home. A nice end to a nice night! It was a fun First Friday, but we didn’t even get to see everything. There’s a free trolley doing a loop downtown every 20 minutes or so. And there are a ton of art galleries that are open late with special showings. And the canal quarter district up Princess Anne street has its own set of First Friday events too. Next time I’d love to check that out.
Maybe I’ll catch you the next First Friday!