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New rules in place to protect performers, attendees during World of Bluegrass

After a year of adapting to a virtual setting, the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass festival is making a return to downtown Raleigh.

Posted Updated

Aaron Thomas
, WRAL reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — After a year of adapting to a virtual setting, the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass festival is making a return to downtown Raleigh.

The festival starts Tuesday and will bring thousands of people to the streets.

"It feels so good to be back," said festival producer David Brower.

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be required at all ticketed events including the IBMA business conference, the IBMA Bluegrass Ramble showcase series, the 32nd Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards, concerts at the Red Hat Aimpheater for IBMA Bluegrass Live! and other IBMA Bluegrass events at the Raleigh Convention Center, the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and various venues downtown.

The event's rules also apply to festival performers.

"All of the banjo players, the guitar players [and] the mandolin players you see up and down Fayetteville Street, they are 100 percent vaccinated and we're really proud of that," said Brower.

People will be asked to provide proof of vaccination as they check into an event, and vaccinated attendees will be provided with a wristband to wear at all events.

Masks will also be required at all indoor activities including bathrooms, hallways and green rooms. Festival organizers are also recommending masks for outdoor shows.

Last year, the festival was held online.

"This year, we are expecting 100 percent increase in attendance," said Brower.

Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns WRAL-TV and WRAL.com, is the exclusive media partner for the ticketed Main Stage performances at Red Hat Amphitheater, as well as the free performances at StreetFest Stages downtown.

East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine professor Dr. Rachel Roper said while getting the vaccine is a personal decision, vaccine requirements may provide a peace of mind for guests in large settings, such as music festivals.

"The vaccines are safe and effective. Every single scientific medical and governments organization in the country recommends vaccination -- every single one of them," said Roper.

Health officials said big crows packing stadiums for fall football games and downtown streets haven't led to a spike in coronavirus infections.

In the 18 months since the beginning of the pandemic, only 8 clusters, totaling 136 cases statewide, have been tied to concerts, festivals and sporting events, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. A cluster is defined as five or more coronavirus cases that can be linked together.

The festival will feature over 80 band and more than 200,000 attendees are expected, according to Brower.

Headliners include Béla Fleck's My Bluegrass Heart featuring Michael Cleveland, Sierra Hull, Justin Moses, Mark Schatz & Bryan Sutton; The Del McCoury Band; Steep Canyon Rangers; Yonder Mountain String Band; and Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer & Odessa Settles.

"I'm beyond thrilled to perform for the good folks of Raleigh, North Carolina," said Tyree Woods, who is on the festival's lineup.

Woods is bringing his band, Buffalo Commons, from Colorado.

"[It's] what I call -- it is 'soul' grass," described Woods.

The business portion of the festival starts Tuesday, while the festival portion starts Friday.


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