EVART — Evart's downtown business owners are eager to show their gratitude for their faithful customers and neighbors.

Members of the Evart Downtown Development Authority are celebrating a week-long customer appreciation event from Feb. 9 to 15 called "I Heart Evart," said DDA President Al Weinberg.

"There are a lot of participating shops in the area, as 2016 was a good year for us," he said. "We were all really  pleased with the Shop Small Saturday and had a lot of people come out and showed their support for shopping local. Business owners wanted to celebrate their good years and kick off 2017 with something special that ties in to Valentine's Day."

The result is the "We Heart Evart" event, with 15 different stores participating with in-store specials and other activities, Weinberg added.

"All these stores are working together to also do an Evart bingo," he said. "Customers will be able to go to the different stores for different things. If they buy a book at one place they get a stamp on their card; if they buy flowers, they get another stamp. There are things that are general and then there are really specific things for certain stamps."

The bingo winners will be included in a drawing for a chance to claim a portion of $600 Evart bucks, which is just as good as money and is accepted at virtually all locally owned business, Weinberg said. The drawing will be live on Facebook at 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 15. First prize will be 300 Evart bucks, second is 180 and third prize is 120.

The downtown is growing, Weinberg said, as 14 businesses have moved in over the last couple of years including Cuts for Mutts, 7th St. Coffee Company and

Steppin Up Dance Studio, as well as Evart Pharmacy becoming locally owned.

"The momentum is changing here in downtown," he said. "It's a sustained breath of fresh air to the downtown, enough to where people are going, 'This is

happening, they're making it happen.'"

The week-long celebration begins with a single-elimination broomball tournament at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9. Weinberg said the tournament be a lot of fun to play in or watch.

"Broomball kicks things off," he said. "We have this great ice rink here in Evart and we will be putting lights out and having a lot of fun. It will be a chance get outside and have some fun."

SpringHill Camps is providing the brooms and helmets and other equipment for the tournament, Weinberg said.

"It's going to be very fun," he said. "It's more like soccer rules, as it's non-contact and just running around on the ice. The clever tag is 'Broomball: It's hockey, but with boots, a broom and a ball."