Three months ago, DVI decided to throw it’s first block party: an Oktoberfest during the First Wednesday Art Walk. We planned, we promoted. We called in favors, we called in experts.
And something special happened. Faces new and old came by the thousands to dance in the street to Dan Witcuki and Mein Heimatland Musikanten Band. To dine on German-inspired dishes from Ruth’s Chris, bb’s, Fionn MacCool’s Irish Restaurant and Pub and Bottega di Bella Sera by Liz Grenamyer. And to drink beer: German beer, local beer, witbier and Oktoberfest beer.
By our estimates, Oktoberfest doubled the average attendance of Art Walk, bringing out 15,000 people and making it the best attended event to date. The artists who set up at Headquarters @ Hemming Plaza saw increased sales, several reporting they doubled their average sales figures. But it didn’t stop there. The energy spilled over, as Art Walk-goers explored the surrounding merchants.
It was opening night for Downtown’s newest clothing retailer, Grease Rags, which sold approximately 30% of their merchandise that night. Chamblin’s Uptown reported the largest crowds to date. Even blocks away in The Elbow, the restaurant Olio broke their sales records.
Since November 2003, DVI has cultivated this free community event to celebrate the art scene of Downtown Jacksonville, the importance of building and maintaining walkable communities, and our continued mission to revitalize the heart of the River City. So, mark your calendar to celebrate with us as we “Cheers to 10 Years,” at the November 6th Art Walk.
We will continue to open new doors and new eyes with this free community event, but we need your help. To keep the momentum going, DVI has launched a community funding initiative to kick off the next ten years. Businesses looking to get involved can view our sponsorship information and download the kit here.
Lastly, we would like to thank our Oktoberfest sponsors: 6th Sense Solutions, Production Service Group (PSG), Reddi-Arts, Make Believe Costumes and Dancewear and the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, plus our more than 50 volunteers for helping make our first-ever block party a huge success! Prost!