The First Friday celebration of downtown Waco shops, restaurants and entertainment venues adds a new focus on Friday with the start of mini-district hub stations as a periodic way to get visitors sampling different sections of downtown.

The Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute, 300 S. Fifth St., will serve as the first station, using the occasion to preview its new exhibit “Healing Waters,” a look at the early days of soft drink bottling.

An exhibit ribbon cutting by the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce will take place at 4:30 p.m. with free admission to the museum until 7:30 p.m. Those attending the exhibit opening can sample four mineral waters provided by Crazy Water, a mineral water company in Mineral Wells, and make their own sodas with specialty syrups and soda siphons in the museum’s Liquid Lab.

Staff members also will lead gallery talks about the history of the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company.

In conjunction with the exhibit opening, First Friday will bring live music, food trucks and pop-up vendors to the museum courtyard. Admission is free.

Peter Ellis of Anthem Group and other downtown advocates helped start First Friday six years ago as a way to pull Waco residents and visitors to downtown venues. What began with six participating businesses and venues now has expanded to 30. With the spread of events across downtown, however, organizers felt holding common events in certain parts of downtown would help focus attention to what’s new.

“We wanted to get more locals involved,” said Rebecca Sheehy, marketing manager for Anthem Group. “Our goal is by having more interactive activities downtown, we increase local knowledge of it.”

Sheehy said events held at mini-district hubs would be held roughly every four months.

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