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Raleigh Wide Open canceled this year

Posted March 22, 2011

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— City officials announced Tuesday that the annual Raleigh Wide Open downtown street festival has been canceled this year due to the economic downturn.

Given the financial strain the city is expecting for the upcoming fiscal year, the $150,000 to $180,000 that the city spends each year on the daylong festival needed to be saved, according to City Manager Russell Allen.

"We're looking for ways to cut our budget and that's a major expense item for that we didn't feel like was essential," he said.

Allen said the decision to cancel this year's Raleigh Wide Open was influenced by a similar celebration held in January, All Star Wide Open, in conjunction with the NHL All Star game and the lack of a specific reason to celebrate this fall.

Previous festivals celebrated revitalization efforts in the community.

In 2009, an estimated 100,000 people attended the festival, which coincided with the opening of the $15 million City Plaza on Fayetteville Street.

An estimated 35,000 people attended the city's first Raleigh Wide Open in 2006, which culminated the 16-month, $9.3 million project to reopen Fayetteville Street to vehicle traffic.

Tight city budget nixes Raleigh Wide Open this year Tight city budget nixes Raleigh Wide Open

Russell said the festival was never meant to be an annual event, but it just worked out that way. He acknowledged that the cancellation would impact downtown businesses, but said the event isn't critical to any business' success.

Dave Motz, a bartender at Isaac Hunter's Oak City Tavern on Fayetteville Street, said Raleigh Wide Open was a good time for everyone.

"We're obviously not happy. We have to do other things to create a buzz in and around downtown Raleigh," Motz said.

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  • bill0 Mar 23, 2011

    "Being mad is useless. Why aren't they offering a solution to a problem which impacts them most?"

    Well, the city announced it yesterday without warning to any of the affected businesses. It is kinda hard for them to come together and come up with a plan in 8 hours.

  • rand321 Mar 23, 2011

    Then what is the extra tax used for we pay on restaurant food and beverage???

  • Vietnam Vet Mar 23, 2011

    It's a shame that this event was cancelled but I salute the City of Raleigh for at least trying to be fiscally responsible.

  • marcduncan Mar 23, 2011

    We still have StormFest !!!

  • Not_So_Dumb Mar 23, 2011

    "Who says downtown businesses are mad?"-bill0

    I didn't say that they weren't mad, I asked why they weren't jumping up an down telling people that they will make up the shortfall.

    Being mad is useless. Why aren't they offering a solution to a problem which impacts them most?

  • bill0 Mar 23, 2011

    "bill0, with 100,000 people coming, how is it that local business aren't jumping up and down telling people that they will make up the shortfall?"

    Who says downtown businesses are mad? Just because WRAL reporting is too lax to interview them? The N&O story quoted the owner of empire eats (the biggest group of restaurants downtown) and he said that this weekend was one of his best of the year.

  • Alert5 Mar 23, 2011

    Has anybody asked how much the new convention center is costing tax payers ("Meekers Folly").

    FYI, the way Meeker set up the accounting for this building makes it impossible to see if it's paying for itself. Initially, the City of Raleigh (Tax Payers) were subsidizing events.

  • driverkid3 Mar 23, 2011

    Tip of the hat to Russell Allen. The man seems like he is using his head for once. People don't have the money to spend what with the price of gas, etc.

  • Not_So_Dumb Mar 23, 2011

    bill0, with 100,000 people coming, how is it that local business aren't jumping up and down telling people that they will make up the shortfall? $1.80 for each person? I am sure that businesses can easily justify that cost based on the increased volume.

    Of course, the Raleigh Chamber would much rather get money than give it.

  • taskmaster27858 Mar 23, 2011

    of Course they cancel everything, dont even want to go downtown anymore, the best thing they had going was the free concerts at Moore Square and they cancel that and now the Raleigh Wide Open.

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