The music will return to uptown Martinsville this summer — but under a new sponsor.

The TGIF concert series, which used to be run by Martinsville Uptown, now is handled by Martinsville UpTown Rotary Club. Its first concert will be by The WORX on June 21, at the farmers market.

Stone Canyon Band will perform on July 19, and Pizazz will perform on Aug. 16, both in the Broad Street parking lot. Same as with previous TGIF concert series, admission will be $7 and free for kids 12 and younger. Danville Distributing will handle beer, and Hugo’s will sell food.

At each TGIF, a volunteer organization has staffed the event and been compensated with a donation. Staffing included taking tickets at the gate, checking IDs for beer purchases, serving drinks and other tasks.

Martinsville UpTown has been one of the regular volunteer organizations helping with TGIF, said Brad Kinkema, UpTown Rotary member and chief executive officer/executive director of the Martinsville-Henry County Family YMCA. 

Martinsville Uptown (formerly MURA — Martinsville Uptown Revitalization Association), which is part of Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, is “changing their focus on different things,” Kinkema said. “They wanted TGIF to continue, but it was taking up a lot of resources” for the Chamber’s three employees.

“Our club has 20-some volunteers in it,” able to handle the work.

Mark Walker, an UpTown Rotary member who owns Flying Pig Games, which he operates out of the business incubator, works with the bands, Kinkema said. Kinkema and incoming UpTown Rotary president Tom Fitzgibbons, King’s Grant’s executive director, “are tag-teaming marketing and working with the city, making sure everything’s set up.”

Marketing the event and getting sponsors are handled by all club members, Kinkema said.

He said they’re not looking to make any changes in the first year, and they worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce in planning this year’s series.

Some TGIF series have extended through five or six months, but in recent years they have been cutting back to four or three months. The longer time period “gets a little drawn out” when is extends through the school year, Kinkema said.

A bouncy house will be set up for children at the event on June 21, and a decision will be made whether to put one up at following TGIFs, depending on how well it’s used in the first one, he said.

The first concert will be staffed by King’s Grant Auxiliary, and the third will be staffed by Charity League. The concert on July 19 is available for a civic or community group to staff, for a $400 donation. To express interest, email Kinkema at brad@martinsvilleymca.com .

Martinsville Uptown

The Chamber took over Martinsville Uptown in 2016, said Chamber Deputy Director Sharon Shepherd. It is run under the Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth, said Entrepreneurial Development Manager Kimberly Eller. Before that, Martinsville Uptown was operated with funds from grants and from the city, Shepherd said.

Martinsville Uptown was started in the 1990s, and TGIF is in its 25th year, Shepherd said.

“Martinsville Uptown is still very much intact,” said Eller. “However, we have a limited staff, so the Martinsville Uptown Rotary was willing to take over TGIF.”

Eller started working part time in the Chamber office in February 2015, she said, and full time starting in July.

For the past several years, Liz Secrest was the executive director of Martinsville Uptown. Eller said she had been helping with Martinsville Uptown initiatives recently.

Secrest left in October, and now Eller works exclusively with Martinsville Uptown, Eller said, “doing a lot of the same efforts, really working to promote uptown.” Hannah Goad, an intern through NCI, is helping with Martinsville Uptown over the summer, she added.

Still active

Martinsville Uptown still runs the farmers market, which is managed by Goad and Megan Spencer.

Uptown has been working with the West Piedmont Planning commission on a Martinsville Uptown map, “an all-inclusive directory” which should be released by the end of this month, Eller said.

Through its Shop Second Thursdays event, uptown businesses are open until 8 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month, including this week. The 40th anniversary of Oktoberfest will be on Oct. 5, according to www.martinsvilleuptown.com , and Small Business Saturday will be Nov. 23.

“We’re always looking for new development efforts to put in place,” Eller said.

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