Third Thursday in Klamath Falls began in 2002. The event has grown and changed over the years and is now a staple of summer in the area.
Klamath Falls Downtown Association executive director Darin Rutledge said it is the biggest event in downtown Klamath Falls.
About 85 vendors have signed up so far, and Rutledge said more are sure to sign up as the summer wears on.
Tonight’s the night
Thousands are expected to come downtown today from 6 to 9 p.m. to enjoy the live music, food and wares from local artists and vendors, celebrating the first of this year’s Third Thursday season.
The Downtown Association didn’t always run the event. It was originally organized by the Klamath Arts Council in 2002 and began with just a few businesses participating. The Linkville Trolley gave rides to attendees along a downtown loop where art was set up for participants to view. The event lasted from June well into the fall.
It was an instant hit. Over 30 businesses participated by the second year. The event was much more focused on art, but still had live music, face painting and refreshments.
2007 was a big year for Third Thursdays. The organizer who had been in charge of planning since the second event decided to step down, and community members worried that the event might be put to an end.
Bill and Shari Burke volunteered to take over the position and saved it, despite slashed funding from the city.
Although the lack of funding seemed like a major set-back at the time, it helped shape the event. The trolley rides ended, making the event less of an art crawl and more like the street fair we know today.
In 2010, the Downtown Association took over the event, and committed to making it bigger and better than ever before.
The association eventually decided to only host three Third Thursday events, to focus them in the best weather and make them bigger.
By this point, the event was no longer just about showcasing local artists, it was a celebration of the culture in Klamath Falls.