This is the time of year for change. It’s almost springtime; the grass is getting greener, the days are lasting longer and 0324104thfriday.jpglife seems to be swirling about everywhere.

This is the time of year when people start venturing out again, because the evening air is warm and inviting. It’s the perfect time to head downtown to Hay Street for Fayetteville’s 4th Fridays.

The Arts Council of Fayetteville has been hosting this celebration of the arts and downtown for quite some time now. Each year seems to get better and better, with more venues and exhibits to experience than the year before. They’re planning on continuing that trend in 2010, with new opportunities at the Arts Council starting on March 26.

If you haven’t been to a 4th Friday celebration, you’re truly missing out on the beautiful and eclectic culture that exists in Fayetteville. There are men and women here from all over the world, and their crafts and talents shine brightly downtown during these exhibitions. As you mingle around, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye, your ear or even your taste buds.

By featuring art in all forms, 4th Fridays offer something for everyone. You’ll come across things like ceramic art pieces by local artist Warner Hyde at Cape Fear Studios, and beautiful beadwork done by Ann Flaherty, at Strung Out on Beads. Catch a demonstration on the making of hammered silver jewelry with Up & Coming Weekly’s own Stephanie Crider at Belle Curve. And don’t miss out on the 10th Annual Cumberland County Schools High School Juried Art Exhibition at the Arts Council.

Once you’re eyes have been filled with the artistry of craft, let your ears be entranced by the liveliness of music. You can feel the soul of Fayetteville as you pass by street performers with tambourines and guitars. You can choose to join in as the crowd sways and dances, or just stop and enjoy the sounds. You might be surprised to find that many venues feature live music on 4th Fridays. Listen to the beats of the Raiford Street Band as they perform at Horne’s Deli Café, or relax with the sophistication of a violin and cello, as Laurel Wachtler and Zack Mae kick off the annual Big Read at the Cumberland County Headquarters Library. March is Women’s History Month, so this 4th Friday City Center Gallery and Books will feature books and art by women. You can groove to live music here as well.

4th Fridays’ celebration of art and downtown can be enjoyed by the entire family. Kids can even get crafty by decorating Easter eggs a little early this year at Fascinate-U Children’s Museum.

Admission is free to all of the 4th Friday venues, and the festivities last from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. As the night comes to a close, don’t leave your taste buds in the dust. Grab a chocolaty delight from one of the bakeries to take home with you, or a warm vanilla latte from Rude Awakenings coffee shop before you head to the car. If you have time, you might want to sit on Pierro’s patio and sip a glass of vino, while Frank Sinatra tunes play in the background, or grab a pint of Filthy Kilt Scotch Ale with your friends at Huske Hardware House. Mark your calendars, because this month’s Fourth Friday is just around the corner. Come and experience Fayetteville like you never have before, as downtown comes to life on March 26.

For more information, visit www. theartscouncil.com.

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