Local News

Raleigh Wide Open canceled this year

Posted March 22, 2011 12:28 p.m. EDT
Updated March 22, 2011 11:26 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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.