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Henderson’s new Last Friday festival brings community and culture to Water Street

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Musician James Tormé, left, and chef Scott Commings will participate in the first Last Friday festival.
Illustration: Corlene Byrd

As a child, Chef Antonio Nunez loved visiting Henderson’s Water Street. He remembers a vibrant community where everybody seemed to know one another. The area was full of people, and in true small-town fashion, many of his friends’ parents worked right on Water Street. Nunez even celebrated his birthdays there.

But as Southern Nevada grew, Water Street lost some of its community feel. “To see where it is now is just disheartening,” Nunez says.

Not one to stand by, the native Nevadan developed an idea to help revitalize the area. A year and a half in the making, Nunez’s plan will come to fruition on August 25, with the food, culture, art and music festival Last Friday, Just Add Water Street.

Last Friday is an evolution from the typical First Friday events that happen across the country, including the one in Downtown Las Vegas. “I’d go to First Friday every once in awhile, look at it and think, ‘This is what we need in Henderson,’” Nunez says. When he sold a restaurant partnership, Nunez finally had the chance to make his dream a reality. He toured First Friday festivals in London, New York City, Chicago, Denver, LA and Hawaii. “I checked out the platforms, what they did and how they did it. Then I set out to build the one we thought would fit the culture of Vegas, a foodie town.”

Naturally, Last Friday will feature some perks that other street events often lack. There will be high-quality live music and DJs. This month, jazz vocalist James Tormé will perform. He’s the son of legendary Las Vegas crooner Mel Tormé. You can also expect that beloved Strip amenity: valet parking. Though the event is free, First Friday will offer discerning guests a VIP area stocked with free food and beverages.

Food will play a starring role at Last Friday. In addition to food trucks and vendors, the big event will be a chef battle in which two Las Vegas chefs compete. Chef Scott Commings, a Hell’s Kitchen champ and Last Friday board member, will be one of the first competitors. “I’m really excited about making this a total community event—bringing something fun and exciting to Water Street” Commings says.

One of the biggest goals for Last Friday: for it to keep evolving and never get stagnant. Nunez wants attendees to think, “Last month was really cool, what are we going to do this month?” There will be an emphasis on interactive experiences. Think participatory art galleries, flash mobs, cookie decorating and separate game areas for adults and children.

The not-for-profit event will donate to a rotating number of charities each month. For its debut, Last Friday will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada, along with Henderson’s Safe House and the Lion Habitat. These charities were specifically chosen because they benefit the surrounding area.

Last Friday, Just Add Water Street August 25, 6-10 p.m., free. Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St., justaddwaterstreet.com.

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