Crowds swell as bluegrass music draws young, old to Raleigh - WNCN: News, Weather

Crowds swell as bluegrass music draws young, old to downtown Raleigh

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Crowds began to swell early Saturday as the final day of the Wide Open Bluegrass event got underway.

The sounds of banjos, guitars, fiddles and mandolins filled the streets of downtown Raleigh Saturday with Kickin' Grass Band taking the stage at Red Hat Amphitheater at 11:45 a.m.

The street fair, which featured stages on Fayetteville, Martin and Hargett streets, got underway at noon, drawing in a huge crowd of bluegrass fans of all ages.

City Plaza stage on Saturday

But festival goers weren't just eager for the music, a line also formed around the block for the North Carolina Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship.

This is the first time the International Bluegrass Music Association has held its signature event in Raleigh. The event had previously been held in Nashville, Tenn., but is in Raleigh for at least a three-year run.

City Plaza Stage on Saturday

Interested in jumping in and joining the fun? Here's your guide to what's happening:

Bluegrass Ramble

The Bluegrass Festival began Tuesday and will allow local fans to "ramble" around Raleigh for five nights. You can sample great bluegrass music on six downtown stages. In addition to the Raleigh Convention Center, the following venues will participate: Lincoln Theatre, Long View Center, Pour House Music Hall, Tir Na Nog, Kings, and the Architect Bar & Social House.

The Ramble continues the rest of the week. To purchase tickets for the Bluegrass Ramble, visit or just purchase tickets at the door. The cost is $10 per venue per day.

Steve Martin

Ticketed events

Ticketed events begin on Friday at 10 a.m. in the Raleigh Convention Center. Doors will open at 9 a.m., and the final performance will end at 4:30 p.m. Bands will begin playing on Friday at Red Hat Amphitheatre at 11 a.m. and will continue until 11 p.m. The headline act Friday is the "epic collaboration" between Del McCoury, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas and Mark Schatz. Alison Krauss was scheduled to join them but had to bow out for medical reasons.

The highlight Saturday is a performance by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) and the Steep Canyon Rangers, featuring Edie Brickell.

On Saturday bands will begin playing at the Raleigh Convention Center at 10 a.m. and will end at 4 p.m. Bands will play at Red Hat Amphitheatre from 11:45 a.m. until 11 p.m. Saturday. Doors for the event at Red Hat Amphitheatre will open at 11 a.m.

You can see the full schedule here.

Free street festival

The free street events began Friday at noon and will go on until 11 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. International, national, and local talent will perform at three different stages throughout the day. Bands are set to play on Hargett St., Fayetteville St. and Martin St. Bands will also play on Saturday from noon until 11 p.m.

Kid-friendly bands will play on the kids stage on Friday and Saturday. A dancing tent to teach kids clogging and square dancing will also be available. Tents for children's events will open at noon on Friday and 12:15 p.m. on Saturday and will run on until 10:30 p.m. on both days.

You can see the full free band festival schedule here. 

Barbecue Festival

What goes better with bluegrass than barbecue? The North Carolina Pork Council will hold its state championship as part of the event. After the judging ,the barbecue will be chopped and sold in sandwiches on Saturday.


Public parking will be available at parking garages off of W. Lenoir St., McDowell St., and Salisbury St. Have cash readily available as parking is expected to cost up to $7 for the day.

Click here for a map [PDF].

Expected attendance

More than 60,000 tourists and local fans are expected to attend the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival.

Ticket availability

Tickets for the Main Stage events on Saturday are sold out. Friday's main stage events are still on sale. Free events with local bands and food trucks will be available both Friday and Saturday.

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