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New party on the block? Gainesville Business Coalition brings Fly Betty Band to square
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Fly Betty Band will perform at a block party on the downtown Gainesville square on April 13. The event, hosted by the Gainesville Business Coalition, aims to draw more people to the square. (Courtesy Fly Betty Band)

The lights will be shining, the tunes will be blasting and people will be dancing as Fly Betty Band rocks out on the downtown Gainesville square in an event hosted by the Gainesville Business Coalition.

The free concert and block party, 7 to 10 p.m. April 13, will feature a little bit of everything for guests to enjoy.

“The band typically plays a little dance and party music from multiple generations,” said Doug Harkrider, one of the band’s members. “So it’s not uncommon for us to see 60-year-olds on the dance floor and then the next minute have 18- to 20-year-olds on the dance floor.”

Block Party on the Square

When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 13

Where: Downtown Gainesville square

How much: Free

More info: Facebook

As someone who’s been a part of the square for almost two decades — Harkrider and his wife owned Main Street Market until last year — Harkrider is happy to bring entertainment to the square. That’s why he and the rest of the band perform there as much as possible.

“To have businesses that care about the square and want to promote the square and bring people downtown is a great thing,” Harkrider said. “For years, when my wife and I first moved to Gainesville, the square was dead. But now when you look at it, there are thriving businesses, so people want to go.”

About 4,000 came to watch Fly Betty Band during its last concert on the square, and Harkrider said he’s hoping to bring even more this time.

While Harkrider said he’s thankful for what the city is doing to expand areas around downtown, like the midtown area and different parks nearby, he doesn’t want people to miss out on what’s still downtown.

“Gainesville is expanding exponentially, and the city is focusing on and expanding toward midtown, which I think is a great thing,” Harkrider said. “But I don’t think we need to lose focus on what started it all, which was the square.”

After the city decided to move the Spring Chicken Festival to Longwood Park and Beach Bash to the Lake Lanier Olympic Park because of impending construction of the Parkside on the Square condominium development, many business owners on the square grew concerned that the moved events would cause a dip in business, which is where the idea for the Gainesville Business Coalition came from.

“Our city events are outgrowing the space we have available downtown,” city spokeswoman Nikki Perry said in a January interview. “Luckily we have a whole city full of wonderful park spaces. We’re looking at this as an opportunity to take advantage of other city assets.”

Harkrider is hoping Fly Betty Band will be able to do its part to keep people coming downtown to the place he holds close to his heart.

“It’s all about promoting the downtown area,” Harkrider said.

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