This past Saturday marked the 5th Raleigh Wide Open Festival since it began in 2006 after the Fayetteville Street pedestrian mall was opened up traffic. As it has in the past, the event featured local musicians on multiple stages and a host of food vendors that line the street from the Capital building all the way down to the new City Plaza. I hit the event twice during the course of the day. I went down in the early afternoon to hear some of the first music acts and returned later in the evening to have a few drinks at The Mint and catch the fireworks finale.
It is estimated that this year’s event drew around 60,000 people. While still a success, this is about 40K people shy of last year’s record attendance of 100,000. I think the smaller crowd was due to two things this year. The first being the overcast weather with constant threat of rain. The sesond being the fact that while there was tons of music, there was no headline act or “main” stage that draw in a huge crowd. I think that is one aspect of the festival I would like to see return in the future. Without that main act at the end of the festival things felt somewhat disjointed and incomplete.
It felt like the crowd actually thinned out as the day wore on instead of things picking up and getting busier as the event transitioned into the evening hours. Sure, the Barenaked Ladies had a concert at the new amphitheater a block away, but I don’t really consider that a part of Raleigh Wide Open because it was physically separated from Fayetteville Street and you needed a ticket for the concert (prices ranged from $35-$58). That being said, we did have a lot of fun and I look forward to future festivals in downtown. You can see the rest of my photos from Raleigh Wide Open Five in my flickr photo album.