By Rachel Parker Dickerson
Downtown Conway has become the social center of town with year-round activities for the whole family, as well as plenty of shopping and dining.
"We're looking forward to a big year this year," said Kim Williams, director of the Conway Downtown Partnership. "Bring out the kids. Eat, dine, play. We're going to have quite a few activities, so there's something for everyone."
The Conway Farmers' Market, which moved to Front Street last year, opens May 8. It will be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Many special events are being planned in conjunction with the Farmers' Market, Williams said.
"We're expecting to have 30 vendors or more on any given day. Probably closer to 40 now," she said.
One of the special events planned for Farmers' Market is a Harvest Fest in June. Downtown restaurants will create menus based on what the farmers have available. The Harvest Fest will also include an expo, Williams said. Third Thursdays, which the Conway Downtown Partnership started last year to encourage downtown merchants to offer special incentives to patrons on the third Thursday of each month, will continue this year.
Silver Moon Cinema, the popular outdoor theater experience that has been held in downtown for several years, will begin in April and will also be combined with Farmers' Market.
Williams noted, "A couple of things started last year (included) Third Thursdays, improving Moonlight Madness and combining Silver Moon Cinema with Farmers' Market. People don't have to pick one night. They can do it all in one night."
Toad Suck Daze, downtown's most well-known event, starts on April 30 this year. It offers three days of activities, music, food and shopping.
"We're very excited about Clint Black," Williams said, referring to the country singer who will headline at the event. "We're excited about getting some positive things for Toad Suck Daze with the merchants. They're looking forward to it."
She noted more plans are in the works. She hopes to plan more biking events with the Conway Advocates for Bicycling and possibly a Boot Camp event with Conway Regional Fitness Center. Williams said a summer concert series featuring local talent is also planned monthly in Simon Park.
"Overall the merchants and everybody downtown is looking forward to spring and fall. Downtown is going bigger and better than ever before," she said.