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Friday Night Live heats up with casino theme
casino night pic
Native American dancers will perform at this week’s Friday Night Live event at the Downtown Incubator. - photo by Photo Contributed
Friday nights will be a little livelier in downtown Turlock thanks to a new local arts event. Local artists, musicians, poets and other performers will showcase their craft during “Friday Night Live” events at the Downtown Incubator. Each week’s event will be a little different, but the current lineup spans from open mic night to standup comedy to live art demonstrations. The event falls on the same day as the Farmers Market in downtown Turlock, so vendors and entertainers can set up on the sidewalk without a permit. The ultimate goal of Friday Night Live, said organizer Susana Love, is to start an art walk in downtown Turlock and create an artistic atmosphere in the area. She said that local artists were craving a venue. “We’re giving artists and the community a place to gather, to enjoy a cup of coffee and a jam session. Whatever comes to mind that people can show their artistic abilities,” Love said. There will be something going on every Friday night at the Downtown Incubator, but once a month there will be a larger special event. This month’s event is Casino Night, complete with professional tables and a no-host wine and beer bar. Love said that Casino night will be a fundraiser for future Friday Night Live events and the Love gallery, set to open Aug. 6. Players can buy chips at the door to use at roulette and other table games. Chips can be redeemed for raffle tickets to win baskets donated by local businesses. Love got the idea for a casino night from Sacred Heart School’s casino night fundraisers.There will be free entertainment outside of the Downtown Incubator during Casino Night. Chilito Valenzuela and his three sons will be performing traditional Native American dances. They will also be playing an Apache flute, singing and reading poetry. Vanessa Valencia will be singing inside. Love said that it was important to keep up the momentum of the art and music events every week.  “This is what will bring an art walk to downtown Turlock. It’s up to the community to keep it going,” Love said. The idea of a weekly downtown arts event came to Love during a meeting of the Downtown Incubator businesses. Love, who owns Eclectic Charm, saw a need for a space for local artists to show their talents. The Downtown Incubator saw a need for a cultural event unique to Turlock that would draw people downtown. Kris Heslop, manager of StanAlliance Employer Assistance Program, has an office in the Downtown Incubator. He said that Friday Night Live fits with the incubator’s “Found in Turlock” marketing idea. “People are starting to realize that we have more going for this downtown than other downtowns have,” Heslop said. After several successful Friday Night Live events, Love is looking forward to Casino Night and possibilities for future Friday night events. “It’s a lot of hard work. I don’t think I realized that when I say ‘let’s do this every Friday.’ But it’s the consistency that makes it work,” Love said. Love and Heslop compared Turlock to cities like Santa Cruz that have lively downtowns with arts scenes and shopping. They said that someday Turlock might have that kind of success in its downtown business neighborhood, but first they have to draw people here. “If we bring that atmosphere here we can bring the people here,” Heslop said. For now Friday Night Live will provide local artists with a place to express themselves, and local art enthusiasts a place to watch and listen. To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ex. 2003.