KANSAS CITY, Mo. — September marks the first First Friday festival since a deadly shooting at August’s event.
Erin Langhofer, a 25-year-old Overland Park woman who worked with domestic violence survivors at the Rose Brooks Center, was standing near the food trucks when a fight broke out.
She was not involved in the fight and was hit by a bullet that took her life.
Now, there are changes to First Friday.
According to the Crossroads Community Association, the event lost its general liability insurance because of the murder. That means food trucks, art vendors and performers are not allowed on the sidewalks for this month’s event. There won’t be any street closures either.
A celebration of Erin Langhofer’s life is planned during First Friday at the Church of the Resurrection Downtown at 16th and Grand.
“Event insurance was canceled on us just two weeks ago from the violence we had a month ago,” Jeff Owens, chair of First Fridays, told FOX4 last week. “This insurance loss was not on our radar and completely changed things.”
Strip’s Chicken in Olathe has a shiny new food truck to bring on the road. They wanted to be part of the First Friday row of food trucks. But at least for this month, they can’t.
“I was actually just a block away when the shooting happened,” Todd Johnson, the proprietor of Strip’s Chicken, said.
So, instead of setting up on the street, Todd Johnson set up his truck in the After Action Network’s Parking lot at Summit and Southwest Boulevard. It’s a group that helps connect veterans with the community.
“We are opening this location up to help the community get behind veterans, and one way we do that is to be able to have a place where we all get together,” Joe Williams, the CEO and founder of the After Action Network, said.
Vendors pay to set up in the AAN’s parking lot, and the money goes to help the veterans. The group held similar events before, but the September event is the biggest so far, with more than a dozen vendors.
Down the road on Southwest Boulevard, MADE MOBB clothing store is holding another charitable event. Nonprofits that help the community are allowed to set up in its parking lot.
“We just want to create that culture for everyone that’s doing something within the city,” Mark Launiu, co-founder of MADE MOBB, said.
A couple of food trucks will be there too, like Meltbox and KC Cajun.
“Kansas City is a city of entrepreneurs, and these food trucks, a lot of these people, this is their business,” Launiu said. “This is how they feed their families, so having no food trucks for this First Friday kind of hurts a lot of them. It hurts the community, really.”
MADE MOBB’S co-founder says the event will end at 10 p.m., an hour earlier than on other First Fridays, and KCPD will be in its roped off parking lot.
Violence rocked Kansas City last month, but businesses hope they can spread the word about good things that happen here.
“First Fridays was just a huge deal for me, and I think all of Kansas City,” Johnson said. “It’s just something that brings so much vibrancy to downtown.”