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Go Ask Mom

5 places to take the kids during this week's Wide Open Bluegrass in Raleigh

Posted September 25

The Wide Open Bluegrass Festival in downtown Raleigh on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Photo by Chris Adamczyk.

Bluegrass is taking over downtown Raleigh this week as the International Bluegrass Music Association stages its annual conference, festival and awards show. Ticketed events feature some of the biggest names in bluegrass, including The Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Steve Martin, Béla Fleck, Abigail Washburn and many more.

But the weekend also includes a free street festival Friday and Saturday in downtown Raleigh - along Fayetteville Street, inside the Raleigh Convention Center and all the way down to the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in front of Memorial Auditorium.

If you're going as a family, here are five free activities to check out:

Junior Appalachian Musicians (AKA, the J.A.M.) Stage

The stage at Martin and Fayetteville streets features current and past Junior Appalachian Musicians as well as some of the region’s most talented advocates of bluegrass and old time music. The Junior Appalachian Musician program, with locations across the southeast, works to provide kids with opportunities to learn traditional old time and bluegrass music. One of my favorites, The Lang Sisters from Wake Forest, will perform on the stage at 4 p.m., Saturday.

The Lang Sisters' released their first album, "Coming Home"

Youth Stage

Outside the Raleigh Convention Center, the stage will feature young up-and-coming musicians selected by IBMA's Youth Council.

The Banjo Stand

Debuted in 2014, the Banjo Stand, a temporary public art installation, returns. Created by Wyoming artist Bland Hoke, the pieces uses 500 necks and nearly 150 pots collected over 12 years from Deering Banjos, according to the Wide Open Bluegrass website. The 20-foot-tall piece surrounds the Sir Walter Raleigh sculpture in front of the Raleigh Convention Center and next to the Youth Stage.

The installation has become a favorite photo opportunity and gathering spot for the conference and festival. This year, Raleigh is hosting a series of free events next to the piece. They include free yoga at 6:30 a.m., Wednesday, and 8:30 a.m., Saturday, and a free beginning to intermediate music class and jam session from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday (bring your instrument). There's also a #Banjostand photo contest. Raleigh's website has more information.

Music played everywhere at Bluegrass Festival

Dance Tent

Along South Street, between the Duke Energy Center and the Convention Center, you'll find a great place for little ones to get the wiggles out. There are lots of opportunities for open dance, along with family square dancing at noon, Saturday.

Family Fun and Picnic Area

You'll find a great place to stretch out, get some food truck food and play in front of Memorial Auditorium.

Wide Open Bluegrass runs noon to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, in downtown Raleigh.

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