Raleigh Wide Open draws to a close
Posted October 24, 2009
Raleigh, N.C. — The fourth annual Raleigh Wide Open was held Saturday. The daylong street festival included 20 bands, about 100 food and art vendors, beer and wine tents, street performers and fireworks.
“Chapel Hill has Franklin Street. Durham has Ninth Street. Raleigh now has Fayetteville Street as the main location,” Raleigh resident Barry Kitchener said.
Kitchener was among the thousands of people who attended the festivities aimed at celebrating downtown Raleigh.
“Downtown Raleigh, it finally had a resurrection,” Kitchener said.
The event coincided with the opening of the $15 million City Plaza – featuring sculptures by local artists, retail pavilions, motion-sensing fountains and 50-foot light towers – on Fayetteville Street.
“This is meant to be a gathering place both for visitors and residents. And it really is great to have the last piece of Fayetteville Street done after all these years,” Mayor Charles Meeker said.
The city's first Raleigh Wide Open in 2006 coincided with the reopening of Fayetteville Street to vehicle traffic. The historic street had served as a pedestrian mall for 30 years prior.
An estimated 35,000 people attended that event, which culminated the 16-month, $9.3 million project.
Fayetteville Street's reopening marked the beginning of a number of changes in the area as part of the city's downtown revitalization efforts.