Uptown DNC CarolinaFest to be free, open to families

Organizers have released new details about CarolinaFest 2012, the uptown festival that kicks off the Democratic National Convention’s arrival in Charlotte on Labor Day.

In a statement obtained by the Observer late Thursday, the officials describe the Sept. 3 event along Tryon Street as family-friendly, free and open to the public.

“Charlotte is the first convention host city to have the opportunity to host a convention week kick-off event that invites tens of thousands of Americans – many of them from the Carolinas – to experience the convention,” the Charlotte in 2012 Host Committee said in the statement.

The festival had been scheduled to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but last month, organizers announced they were moving the festival to uptown. Explaining the move, officials said having the festival in uptown made for easier logistics and would give delegates and other visitors a stronger connection to the convention, which will take also place uptown.

CarolinaFest will run along Tryon Street between Stonewall and Trade streets with music and food vendors. Activities and expositions will be set up on The Green, across from the Mint Museum Uptown, as well as in the parking lot between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Stonewall Street.

The festival will begin with Charlotte’s Labor Day parade at 10 a.m. As the parade ends around noon, performers and speakers be at two stages: the Main Stage at Trade and Tryon streets and the Carolina Stage on the Levine Avenue of the Arts.

Organizers said performers and speakers will be announced in coming weeks. Stage programming will end around 6:15 p.m.

Activities for children – including games, interactive exhibits, arts and crafts, fitness and healthy-eating activities – will be held on The Green. Nearby, adjacent to the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, will be the Legacy Village, where organizers will promote Mayor Anthony Foxx’s civil-involvement programs themed around the convention.

“It is our goal is for festivalgoers to be drawn in and entertained by these organizations, learn of their story while engaging in the interactive exhibits, be inspired to take steps to become involved in their communities, and carry these legacies forward,” organizers said.

Officials also announced that the museums within the boundaries of the festival – the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Gantt Center and the Mint Museum Uptown – will be open to visitors at no cost. Other uptown museums will offer discounted rates. Discovery Place and the NASCAR Hall of Fame will offer half-price admission, and admission to the Levine Museum of the New South will be $ 5.

“The Democratic National Convention will bring the attention of the nation and the world to our city and region,” organizers said in the statement. “CarolinaFest 2012 provides an outstanding opportunity to showcase our region… and give local residents an opportunity to participate.”

For details and a map, go towww.charlottein2012.com.

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