Camas First Friday goes virtual in face of coronavirus closures

Downtown Camas Association to host online events and contests all week, from Sunday, April 26 through Friday, May 1

After coronavirus closures forced the Downtown Camas Association (DCA) to postpone the group’s April First Friday festivities and long-awaited unveiling of a historic paper mill photo collage, DCA leaders knew they needed to figure out a way to celebrate the popular May “Gnome and Fairy Gala” First Friday event while still adhering to the state’s social-distancing guidelines. 

The result? A weeklong, virtual “First Friday” that kicks off this Sunday with a “best fairy” and “best gnome” costume competition and culminates on Friday, May 1 with a Facebook Live event on the DCA’s First Friday Facebook page. 

“First Friday is important to us for a number of reasons,” said Carrie Schulstad, the DCA’s executive director. “It connects people to each other and creates memories and gives families something to do, but one of the main things, for us, is that it helps create that connection with our downtown merchants.” 

With so many small downtown Camas merchants forced to close their doors under Governor Jay Inslee’s statewide “stay at home” order meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many business owners have been forced to go online to keep their shops alive. 

“The question was, ‘How do you connect with merchants when you can’t go to the storefront?’” Schulstad said.

The DCA hopes its virtual First Friday will help Camas residents and others reconnect with downtown merchants online. 

“Lots of people are pivoting and transitioning and I’m just so proud of what downtown Camas merchants have done,” Schulstad said. 

Because the traditional First Friday event takes place on just one night, but is spread out throughout downtown Camas shops and locations, Schulstad said the DCA needed to figure out a way to fit all of the fun into an online venue. 

“The only way we could do that was to have a new post everyday. We’re hoping people like that,” she said. 

The gnome and fairy online activities will start on Sunday, April 26 and run through Friday, May 1, when the DCA plans to announce the week’s winner at 5 p.m. during a Facebook Live event on their Facebook page, at .  and go through First Friday, May 1st, ending with a Facebook Live event on the facebook.com/camasfirstfriday/.

Businesses will participate in the “Virtual Gnome & Fairy Gala Passport” event on Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1. Each participating business will have a gnome or fairy on their individual Facebook pages, and shoppers are encouraged to find those characters and write down what each one is doing in their “passport,” then enter the completed passport for a chance to win merchant gift cards, compliments of the DCA.

Downtown art galleries, including the Attic Gallery and Camas Gallery will host virtual tours through the DCA’s First Friday Facebook page, and the DCA will host new “gnome and fairy” themes games throughout the week, also on the group’s First Friday Facebook page. Participants sharing First Friday photos are asked to tag #camasfirstfriday on their social media post, so the DCA can track each post and give participants more chances to win prizes. 

“The main goals of First Friday have always been to connect people, promote downtown businesses, provide activities that the whole family can enjoy together and to create some fun memories,” Schulstad stated in a press release. “We’re hoping that even in these different times that we can accomplish some of these same goals. We are all missing everyone and would love to see our First Friday regulars and new folks posting and having fun! We ask for patience and a sense of humor as we adapt our First Friday activities.”

Following are the daily First Friday activities that will be posted on the DCA’s First Friday Facebook page: 

Sunday, April 26: Post your best fairy and best gnome costume photos to win prizes

Monday, April 27: Post your best gnome dance on TIK TOK

Tuesday, April 28: Find gnomes and fairies in posted photos

Wednesday, April 29: Take pictures of specific fairy items and post for the fairy photo scavenger hunt

Thursday, April 30: Choose one of the winning doors in the “Fairy Doors” photos and post pictures of your favorite flowers

Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1: Connect with merchants in downtown Camas through their Facebook pages to win prizes. Passports must be completed by 3 p.m. Friday, May 1. 

Friday, May 1: DCA will announce winners at 5 p.m. in a Facebook Live event through the group’s First Friday Facebook page. 

The DCA will draw two winners from all of the First Friday activities to each win $50 in gift cards to downtown shops and restaurants. The DCA is donating the money for the gift cards to help support downtown businesses impacted by the coronavirus closures. 

For more details, visit downtowncamas.com/event/gnome-fairy-gala-may-first-friday/2020-04-26.

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