RALEIGH: Bluegrass awards will stay in Raleigh through 2018 - WNCN: News, Weather

Bluegrass festival to be hosted in Raleigh through 2018

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The 2014 World of Bluegrass event will take place Sept. 30 through Oct. 4 throughout downtown Raleigh. The 2014 World of Bluegrass event will take place Sept. 30 through Oct. 4 throughout downtown Raleigh.
Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers headlined the 2013 Wide Open Bluegrass festival in Raleigh. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN) Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers headlined the 2013 Wide Open Bluegrass festival in Raleigh. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN)
The Gibson Brothers perform at Red Hat Amphitheater during the 2013 Wide Open Bluegrass festival. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN) The Gibson Brothers perform at Red Hat Amphitheater during the 2013 Wide Open Bluegrass festival. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN)
Crowds fils City Plaza in downtown Raleigh during the 2013 Wide Open Bluegrass festival. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN) Crowds fils City Plaza in downtown Raleigh during the 2013 Wide Open Bluegrass festival. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

International Bluegrass Music Association organizers and representatives for the City of Raleigh announced that the IBMA's World of Bluegrass event will stay in the Oak City through 2018.

World of Bluegrass was previously slated to be hosted in Raleigh through 2015, but at an event Tuesday at Red Hat Amphitheater, organizers announced that it had extended its agreement with the city through 2018.

"Raleigh could not have gotten better news today," Mayor Nancy McFarlane said. "We not only want IBMA's World of Bluegrass in Raleigh through 2018, we want IBMA and the bluegrass community to put its roots down in Raleigh to stay."

The World of Bluegrass is a week-long event that includes a four-day business conference, the International Bluegrass Music Awards and a three-day Wide Open Bluegrass that features a number of bluegrass acts. Previously the IBMA hosted the event in Nashville, but moved the World of Bluegrass to Raleigh last year.

"This city has really been welcoming in a way that none of our previous hosts have been," said IMBA Board Chairman Jon Weisberger. "Raleigh has really gone out of its way to extend hospitality and cooperation at every level."

Nancy Cardwell, executive director of IBMA, said members who attended the festival for decades told her the Raleigh event was the best World of Bluegrass they had ever been to.

"Exceptional music was presented, discovered and honored; there were a number of memorable moments during the week that none of us will ever forget, and we all just felt so incredibly welcomed and embraced by the Raleigh community," Cardwell said.

Cardwell said enthusiastic support from local bluegrass fans and musicians helped knock World of Bluegrass out of the ballpark. An unprecedented amount of press coverage and perfect weather also contributed to the festival's success.

"We continue to receive compliments about last year's events, we've seen a 39 percent increase in membership during the past two years, and the support and enthusiasm of the Local Organizing Committee in Raleigh and everyone in North Carolina has been so gracious and genuine," Cardwell said.

Cardwell estimates the Wide Open Bluegrass concerts -- which featured performances from more than more than 160 different artists, including Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and Béla Fleck -- showed a 52 percent increase in attendance from the previous year.

"Locals, regional bluegrass folks, artists at all levels of their careers, the industry, and the international bluegrass community all showed up-for which I am incredibly grateful," Cardwell said.

Speaking to the economic impact of last year's World of Bluegrass, PNC Bank Director of Client & Community Relations Rebecca Quinn-Wolf said the Triangle experienced "tremendous ... success."

"We look forward to supporting the continued contributions this festival will bring in the areas of arts and culture, economic development and education in our community," Quinn-Wolf said.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that the World of Bluegrass event generated $10 million in direct visitor spending, with total attendance estimated to be more than 154,000.

The 2014 World of Bluegrass event will take place Sept. 30 through Oct. 4 throughout downtown Raleigh.

The event features ticketed shows at the Red Hat Amphitheater and Raleigh Convention Center stages, and free shows on street festival stages.

An initial lineup of musicians who will perform at Wide Open Bluegrass Festival includes Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder with Bruce Hornsby, Del McCoury Band, Hot Rize, Gibson Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers and Sierra Hull. There will also be a superstar Wide Open Jam featuring Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Bryan Sutton and Stuart Duncan.

Single day general admission for the ticketed portion of the Wide Open Bluegrass festival starts as low as $50, with a three-day Bluegrass Ramble pass available for $75.

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