Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oh yuck. Centerfest to be in a parking lot again.

I have always loved Centerfest in Durham since moving here. It has consistently been a fun and easy-going time. A real treat. Last year, however, it was crammed into a big asphalt parking lot near the Farmer's Market. The asphalt was steamy hot, the weather was hot, the people were jammed in, and it was miserable--at least for me and the people I was with. After inquiring last year, I understood that it was held there because it wasn't clear that the downtown street improvements would be finished in time. Okay, I was cool with that. But I just looked on the website and it is still going to be held in that parking lot.

So good luck with that. I was looking forward to it being downtown in the neat CCB (See Say Be) Plaza with Major, and up and down Main Street and Chapel Hill Street, showing off our new merchants downtown and our great looking new brickwork and streetlamps and all. Nope. The map for Centerfest is still directiing people to the asphalt parking lot.

Centerfest 2008 will be held September 20 and 21st, according to its website.


toastie said...

It could be worse. It could be at the Imperial Center in RTP like the Taste of Durham was. (Things weren't the least bit crammed in there, at least).

North Carolina Benefit for Fragile X said...

I agree, I was very much dismayed last year. I won't be attending again until it's back in the streets.

MegRNC said...

whoops that was megrnc on that last comment

Durham Bull Pen said...

Toastie! Hi. I forgot about that event being in a parking lot too.

Maybe they should start calling them "parking lot fairs" instead of "street fairs."

Actually I guess they are calling it "The Art Lover’s Festival" (in a parking lot).

NCBFX: I agree. I think I'll pass until it's in a more enjoyable place. Even the vendors seemed dismayed last year.

Durham Bull Pen said...

megrnc: Oopsie. Hi!

Ellen Dagenhart said...

I hope you will support your Durham Arts Council and the artists of Centerfest wherever they are located. I know I will. This location is preferable for a number of reasons: it's easier to staff with volunteers as there are fewer, more easily controlled entrances (DAC trustees are the only ones who can collect money); it's easier to secure the area at night; some of the downtown tenants/merchants were not happy to have access to their businesses blocked for days; the majority of artists preferred it; and it's less expensive to produce the event in this location, among other reasons.

Centerfest doesn't make a lot of money, if any, but it does give great exposure to Durham, especially downtown, and to the artists. It's easy to walk to the Farmers Market, nearby restaurants, the Carolina Theatre, and lots of parking - just make a day of it! This is a long-running, uniquely Durham event and I'll be there - hope to see you, too.

Ellen Dagenhart, former DAC trustee

Durham Bull Pen said...


Hi Ellen--yes, I have supported Centerfest and its artists heartily in the past.

Sorry, but I think Durham Arts Council is sabotaging Centerfest by moving into a crammed hot parking lot. That's why I'm so upset--I'd like to see this Fest thrive, and I'm afraid it's not going to thrive if ardent supporters like me (and others) think the jammed hot parking location is a loser.

And the downtown merchants don't want all that foot traffic/potential business over the Centerfest weekend? Having talked to a few of them myself, we'll have to agree to disagree on that.

The artists that I talked to last year were none too happy with the parking lot, either.

ellen dagenhart said...

People disagreeing in Durham - I am shocked ;-)

In truth, it is not my favorite location, but this is not about me. I made all the complaints that you did and I understand what you are saying and why you are saying it.

Of course the merchants want the foot traffic - who wouldn't? But plenty of the property owners and tenants did not want trucks or vans parked in front of their businesses for several days, nor did they want street access completely restricted.

The reasons to hold the event there are compelling, and the research was extensive and persuasive. The event planners for DAC talked to all the property owners and all the artists, not just a few.

DAC is not rich, far from it, and it just made no sense to choose a site that guaranteed a substantial deficit. If you want DAC to be able to continue to support the artists in our community and the programs that benefit the children and the community, then you should come out and support the event, and donate and volunteer for DAC.

I griped and complained like you last year, but showed up to do my volunteer stint on the gate, had a great time, and volunteered for a second shift. Crazy, yes, but it matters to me that Durham's Arts Council thrive and that our long-running street arts fair continue even if it is a couple blocks north of my chosen location. Stay home if you must; me, I can't wait!