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Canby's First Friday was lightly attended this month and Mayor Brian Hodson said he hopes that more people will participate in the future

DANIEL PEARSON - First Fridays events in downtown Canby are not living up to the expectations of organizers, participants.Hodson said there were four or five businesses participating, and Judson Roy Home Furnishings was very busy, which was great to see, but that he would like to see more involvement from downtown businesses.

"I know Shawn Varwig, owner of Judson Roy, came to us and said, 'Hey councilors and mayor. I want to see you more,'" Hodson said. "I think we outnumbered the general population of Canby (in attendance) much of the evening. I think we can do better as a community in terms of getting out, and there are pieces that city staff can look at. I know (Canby Main Street Manager) Jamie (Stickel) is working on it."

Businesses participating in Canby's First Friday event include Retro Revival, the Canby American Legion Post, Cutsforth's Market, Ebner's Custom Meats, the Backstop Bar and Grill, Judson Roy and the Big White Goose.

The idea is for Canby residents, or visitors, to come downtown and walk to each business to sample food and beverages, and to discover what each business has to offer. First Fridays occur nationwide and in larger cities can be well attended with thousands showing up for the monthly event.

It's safe to say that no one expect thousands of people to come to downtown Canby for First Fridays, but hundreds certainly would be satisfying to downtown business owners and the city.

Councilor Tyler Smith said he wanted to comment on First Friday from a different perspective.

"I understand what you said Mr. Mayor and I've heard the public comments, but as an owner of a downtown business that was open on Friday night, I don't expect any of you to come in there or to come by," Smith said. "I know that Councilor (Traci) Hensley is downtown constantly. I see out (my) window Councilor (Sarah) Spoon is downtown all the time. I don't expect us to personally be able to drive and market all of our businesses and keep them in business with our personal sales. I think there's a bit of a high expectation. I don't expect all of you to keep my business in business. I think we have to be realistic about the expectations for our staff marketers and us as councilors.

Smith said he's all for everybody succeeding and filling up all of the downtown businesses, but the council has to keep realistic expectations.

Hodson said he doesn't disagree, that his family's pocket book only goes so far, and that he cannot every month buy an end table or a couch from Judson Roy or Big White Goose, and he does know councilors are downtown often but can't solely drive business.

"It's more the visibility to understand what's going on and what we can do strategically," Hodson said. "I have to market my own business and there's a piece there that the downtown businesses need to own. I just want to make sure we (are) doing all we can."

Councilor Hensley said she was sad to hear that First Friday was lightly attended across the downtown corridor.

"I didn't notice that (it) was lightly attended because quite honestly we (the Canby American Legion Post) kicked off our First Friday summer music series on the patio and we were packed," she said. "I'm hoping maybe we can spread that out throughout downtown in the coming First Fridays over the summer."

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