During the three-month hiatus of Fresh Fridays, request after request was received to find out when the event would return, said event producer and Next-Mark president Joseph Grano.
The popular block party event finally returned on Oct. 6 for its third season with “Paint the Town Fresh.” Held at the intersection of South Pineapple Avenue and Main Street, the event drew what Grano said appeared to be a record number of attendees.
“We have seen an unprecedented enthusiasm and engagement from not only the people who live downtown, but people in the greater Sarasota community,” he said.
Featuring the Naples-based The Brett Foreman Band, the event hosted restaurants including Tzeva, State Street Eating House + Cocktails and Brick’s Smoked Meats, and offered entertainment in the form of Jenga and cornhole games.
It also saw an appearance from City of Sarasota Mayor Kyle Battie and City Manager Marlon Brown, with Battie taking to the stage to address the crowd.
The event, which is now funded through June 2024, will take place at various locations showcasing different areas of the city while featuring different themes.
Attendees appeared to enjoy having Fresh Fridays on the scene.
“It’s great,” said Paul Alexander. “We’re in our little spot in Osprey and The Oaks, so it’s nice to get out on the town like this. We’re having a lot of fun.”
“We’ve been here since 2021, and we are always here every single time,” said Manon Michaud. “We really enjoy the event.”
“It's really a night that is totally free,” Grano said. “There's no VIP section or anything like that. You come, you're a part of the community, and it's really about having fun: see your friends, dance and eat in a safe, welcoming environment.”