Jessica Stalter, Senior Reporter
The most recent First Friday event, the Cookie Carnival, gave local bakers an opportunity to participate in a contest where visitors and judges could vote on their favorite baked good. These bakers also had products ready to sell so that those visiting their tent could pick up more of their favorite treat.
Downtown Lakeland hosts its First Friday event every month with various exhibitors, crafters, artisans and a Classy Car Show. Most months have an additional theme and event in Munn park featuring local businesses and sponsors.
“Tonight is the first Friday in downtown Lakeland, and there’s a train, and it’s the cookie carnival so we are all submitting sample pieces to be judged,” Shmush marshmallow vendor owner Jessica Kleinbaumb said. “It’s always great fun at the First Friday. There’s lots of people here and it’s a beautiful night. It’s really great to get out and be a part of the community in Lakeland. It’s such an up and coming area it’s just such a good time.”
The events in Munn Park provide an additional and unique aspect to First Friday, with many of the events repeating annually.
“This is my second time coming back to the cookie Carnival,” owner of Chervon Cakes & Cookies Kelly Chervon said. “I’m a regular makers market vendor for the First Friday, and the Cookie Carnival is the Friday night market just on steroids. As you can see, by my tables, everything’s kind of wiped out. But it’s a really good opportunity for small businesses like myself to get my product out to customers.”
During First Friday, the streets of Downtown Lakeland from Lemon to Oak Street and Kentucky to Tennessee Avenue are blocked off and filled with over 60 exhibitors that First Friday visitors can walk through to receive giveaways, enter raffles, get information and discounts, and purchase products. Parking and entrance into the event are free, making it an inexpensive activity for everyone.
“We loved all the free stuff and it has a really good atmosphere,” FSC Student Josalyn Elliott said.
“There were lots of really adorable dogs. I love the community coming together. Lakeland seems to be a booming place and I really enjoyed the cookies, they were delicious,” attendee Kortlyn Dougherty said.