Runners, rockers, non-lethal duelists, art lovers and automotive enthusiasts alike will find something of interest waiting in Ashland Friday during August’s Downtown Live and First Friday ArtWalk.
Leading the list of events certain to attract a crowd will be the annual Night Moves 5K Race, which is the city’s only evening event for running enthusiasts.
“I think one thing they like about it is they get to start and finish right in the middle of a big festival with a lot of people,” said Danny Craig, Ashland Main Street executive director. Craig said the encouragement of the festival crowd is certainly appreciated by the runners, who often compete during early-morning events with a relatively small number of supporters along the way and at the finish line.
The grand marshal for this year’s Night Moves will be Amy Compston, who recently competed in the Boston Marathon and is now gathering support for the Amy For Africa project. Compston’s son and Ashland businessman Bob Hammond will also be competing for the best time at the end of the race, with supporters collecting pledges for both runners along the way. A source close to Compston’s camp reports Hammond and the younger runner have recently posted 5K finish times within 60 seconds of one another, predicting either runner could claim a victory in the challenge.
Craig said he is also excited about the music for Friday’s downtown celebration, explaining members of the band Spilt Nixon will once again perform as the runners are making their way out of and back into the downtown district. Split Nixon is made up of vocalist/guitarist Jason Mays, guitarist Rodney Crisp, drummer Scotty Ross and bassist Jamie Hall.
“Jason is a phenomenal singer. He’s got that voice,” Craig said, adding equal praise for the instrumental skills of the band’s remaining members. Comparing the band’s music to that of groups including Soundgarden and Audio Slave, Craig said Split Nixon’s sound “is perfect for the race.”
Members of the Ashland Lightsaber League will also perform a demonstration of skills as part of the Downtown Live portion of the evening, Craig said, with an exhibition performance on 15th Street near Fat Patty’s starting at 7 p.m. Also on 15th Street, Craig said “The Zombies” from the Fallsburg Haunted House will be doing a “Thriller” dance around 6 p.m.
Martial arts enthusiasts may want to visit the new home of Ashland Area Tai Chi & Kung Fu during the First Friday festivities. Master Nancy Compton said the school is now located in Suite 202 of the Putnam Building at 1527 Winchester Ave., and will host an open house event during the downtown celebration.
“For First Friday open house, we will be taking visitors through our new facility and introducing them to the ancient Chinese martial style of traditional Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chuan,” Compton said. “Visitors will get a chance to see how a traditional Kung Fu school, or kwoon, is decorated and will also be treated to demonstrations by students from the school. If they are interested, they will have a chance to sign up for classes at that time.”
The event will once again feature inflatables for children, as well as classic and antique cars and motorcycles along Winchester Avenue.
“And, let’s not forget about the reason it started, and that’s the ArtWalk,” Craig stressed, encouraging visitors to take their time and enjoy the works of artists with studios inside the Pendleton Arts Center.
The Downtown Live and First Friday ArtWalk for August concludes with a solo performance by Ashland native Ben Robinette for the Ashland Main Street Songwriter’s Showcase, starting at 9 p.m. at Chimney Corner Cafe on Carter Avenue.
“Ben should draw a big crowd. He’s got a big fan base here in Ashland,” he said.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2651.