Seeing as how this is Black Friday, most of you are either sleeping off a food coma or affixing spikes to your elbow pads, the better to lay claim to the choicest shopping deals. More power to you, but I, for one, am looking forward to a more active/less violent annual tradition: MainX24.

While it lacks the ... spectacle ... of navigating a middle-age mosh pit at Best Buy to snag a discounted TV, this annual celebration of all things Southside is certainly a must-experience event.

After my stellar first experience there last year, I've been ticking off the days until Dec. 2 for weeks.

Those who attend MainX24 know its greatest strength is by far the sheer size and variety of offerings on the schedule. Practically every business on Main Street, as well as many satellite locations, offers something to draw you in, from discounted food and drink to concerts and ice skating.

As a result, who you see and what you experience during MainX24 will vary widely from person to person. Last year, for instance, my day began by leaping onto a moving Volkswagen bus during the morning parade and ended with me shivering in the gusting, Arctic cold while Andrew Nigh's 18-foot-tall wooden statue, "Vega Chrysalis," burned behind Discoteca.

That last bit might not sound like fun, and the biting cold certainly wasn't, but it was absolutely memorable. That being said, there were so many things I didn't get to experience, including the aforementioned ice skating. This year, there are 96 events associated with MainX24, so the possibility of missing out is even greater.

For some, the trick to maximizing your enjoyment of MainX24, as with Riverbend, if perhaps on a smaller scale, might be in proper planning.

This year, several of my friends already have their days entirely mapped out, from snacking on pancakes at 218 E. Main at 8 a.m. to the burning of another Nigh statue, "Sanctuary," at 8 p.m.

Based on personal experience, I can attest to still being able to wring enjoyment out of the festival experience spontaneously, so I'll choose a few events to hone in on and just go with the magic flow the rest of the day.

A few of my must-try experiences this year include:

* The open house at The Hot Chocolatier, 201 W. Main St., from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., featuring fresh caramel apples and owner/chocolate chef Wendy Buckner's signature truffles and hot chocolate.

* The return of the busking competition along West Main Street, sponsored by the Folk School of Chattanooga, from noon to 2 p.m.

* The MainX24 fashion show from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, 1400 Market St., organized by Collective Clothing and Zombi Candi.

Try as I might, I won't be able to see everything, but whatever I experience, I'm sure it will be memorable.

* Whether you're a MainX24 veteran or a complete Southside novice, everyone can use a helping hand from time to time. Check out a full listing of MainX24 events at

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.