The inaugural First Friday event will be held at the Strawberry Tap.

First Friday kicks off in Plant City

The event has been making waves throughout Tampa Bay and now is set to highlight local downtown businesses thanks to Rise Plant City.
Sep. 6, 2018

Plant City is known for its extravagant festival and eclectic community. A group of dedicated young professionals hopes it will soon be recognized for its flourishing nightlife.

Rise Plant City, an organized group of young workers who aim to increase lifestyle and networking opportunities in town, is bringing the renowned First Friday event to the blossoming community.

“We wanted to appeal to the younger working class that go straight home from work,” Christy Lyle, Rise president, said. “It will be the first Friday of every month and can act as a social outing, a relaxing evening, a networking opportunity or really anything they want. There are a lot of different needs in our demographic and we are excited to provide an event that can meet so many of them in one night.”

Tampa, St. Petersburg and Lakeland use Fourth Friday and First Friday events to connect the community to businesses downtown. Plant City will soon throw its gauntlet into the mix, though out of the gate it will use a much different approach.

On Sept. 7 the first official First Friday will kickoff at The Strawberry Tap, 110 E. Reynolds St. Starting at 6 p.m. Bud Lights, Coors Lights and Budweiser will be on special for $2, Yuengling, Michelob Ultra will be $3 and attendees can receive 15% off the Plant City Burger.

Trent Lott, chair-elect of Rise, said the group saw similar events work in local communities and wanted to bring that kind of momentum to Plant City.

“This also will support restaurants and bars in the Plant City community to get up and going,” Lott said. “How many restaurants and bars have we seen come into downtown over the past few years and fail? It’s so crucial we help the community realize they don’t have to leave and go to Brandon or Tampa to have a fun night out. That’s what this event will hopefully do.”

The offered deals are free for Rise members and $5 for anyone else interested in partaking. Lott said ordering a “couple of beers and a burger” will more than make up the money spent to join the festivities.

The exclusive happy hour will also feature an open mic comedy act at 7:30 p.m. with local headliners like Jon Fon and Jessie Frier. Anyone who is interested in hitting the stage will have the chance to show off their comedic chops throughout the evening.

Nearby monthly outings of similar titles tend to rope in multiple establishments including local museums, artists and shops as well as trendy restaurants. For now, Rise Plant City is hoping to showcase one unique establishment each month, but Lyle said there is always the possibility it will transform to encompass new ideas.

“As our board evolves and new members join and begin to take on leadership roles I’m sure there will be new ideas coming on how to evolve this into something even bigger,” Lyle said. “Our main goal now is to just show some love to our city and highlight the great businesses right here in Plant City. Who knows what that will look like in the future?”

Lyle said the group is always looking for new members, especially those that would be interested in joining the event planning team. Anyone interested in learning more about Rise or joining the group should visit its Facebook page and either message the group or email membership chair Taylor Clark at Local restaurants or venues that would like to be featured for an upcoming First Friday are also encouraged to message the group.

“First Fridays are definitely a lot of fun and help bring a lot of people to the town where so many of us work and live,” Lott said. “I think a lot of people are saying we’ve been needing an event like this for a while. I hope people enjoy it and keep coming out every month.”