First Thursdays, the monthly social-retail event held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every first Thursday May through September, launches its 2017 season on Thursday, May 4. Held throughout Wausau’s River District, this community-driven event will feature local businesses, live local music, live art creation, and themed activities hosted by local businesses.

Each month, First Thursdays turns downtown Wausau into a type of street fair, encouraging exploration of local businesses and the whole of downtown Wausau. Attendees can meander, discover and explore downtown Wausau while watching performing and visual arts stage throughout the shopping district. Each month will also feature live local art and music, and a scavenger hunt with a chance to win a gift certificate to any participating business. Additional themed entertainment provided by downtown businesses.

This season’s theme is Throwback Thursdays, so each month will feature a throwback theme to a different decade and activities and specials will be structured around the theme. May kicks off with a 1960s theme and coordinating scavenger hunt, along with the live local music and art the event is known for.

“First Thursdays is a fun event designed to get people exploring all the wonderful businesses that Wausau’s River District has to offer, and highlight the immense amount of local talent we’ve got in Wausau,” said Elizabeth Brodek, executive director of Wausau River District. “It’s the biggest community event in Wausau that highlights our local talent and treasures.”

First Thursdays encourages shopping at local businesses which are the backbone of our local economy, returning more money to the community than shopping at big box stores or online outlets, combined, according to a Wausau River District news release. These businesses are owned by family friends and neighbors, so supporting them means helping others in our community.

First Thursdays was developed by local business owners who sought to enhance the downtown shopping experience.  The goal of the event is to make shopping downtown a special event by creating an enjoyable atmosphere filled with music and entertainment while promoting the unique River District stores.

First Thursdays would not be possible without the generous support of its sponsors: Compass Properties, Eastbay, ENT Associates, Executive Cleaning, Manpower, Nationwide, Ruder Ware and Wausau Center Mall.