Articles Comments

City Beautiful 21 » Art, Carrboro, Culture, Parking, Piazzas, Plazas, Parks and Squares, Public Transit, Street Design, Walking » Quick Thoughts on Carrboro Music Festival 2013

Quick Thoughts on Carrboro Music Festival 2013

Another Carrboro Music Festival (CMF) is in the books, and generally speaking, it was a great afternoon.  The timing of the event usually provides some of the best weather central North Carolina can offer, temperature/humidity-wise, and today delivered on that count in spades.  I biked all over the place, taking advantage of our new bicycle facilities on Main Street and the elevator to the roof of the parking deck. (more on that later)

As usual, the music was tremendous- I caught several excellent performances spanning a slew of genres, mostly from people who live in town or nearby.  The Tim Smith Band‘s reggae-influenced cover of “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison was my favorite surprise of the day- just flat out awesome, even in a set that pretty much killed for 40 minutes straight. Doug Largent‘s organ playing was a great joy to hear in person for the first time as well.  DC and I closed out the night at Steel String listening to Wes Collins‘ riveting “Waiting,” and then packed up the stroller and headed for home.


Wes Collins (standing) & Danny Gotham at Steel String Brewery

Beyond enjoying the day, though, I spent a portion of my time wandering around thinking about what the CMF tells us about Carrboro for the other 364 days of the year.

Here are my take-aways. Unsurprisingly with me, they are public space and transport-centric:

  • Lots of cities talk about “managing/cultivating/some-action-verbing” their brand, and I have previously heard that a good brand “delivers on a promise.” Carrboro has a brand and it lives it without much fuss- the town is informal, fun, musical, artistic, accepting, and comfortable with a certain amount of chaos in service of those things. The CMF is not the town putting on a persona for a day; it’s just Carrboro being Carrboro, only more than usual. That’s a good thing.
  • It’s great to see buses running in Carrboro on Sundays.  We need our transit network to be a seven-day-a-week service. I asked Chapel Hill Transit staff and they said that a total of 679 passengers rode the two buses that provided Shuttle service on Sunday.
  • Even on the day of the year when the most visitors the town receives at once are there, traffic just isn’t that bad.  And maybe the alternatives to get downtown help a lot with that, but still.
  • The parking deck was open, but not from the side that most people were likely to get the chance to take advantage of it.  Even so, Levels 1-2 and a small part of 3 in the deck were filled.  The roof, 4, and 5 were mostly empty even after going past all the spaces reserved for the hotel. Check it out:
  • 3rd Level Parking Deck During Late Afternoon CMF

    3rd Level Parking Deck During Late Afternoon CMF

  • The sidewalks on our major streets need to be wider.  Walking in Carrboro can sometimes feel tenuous under usual conditions, but the CMF crowds exacerbate this by pointing out how deteriorated some of our sidewalks are in our most heavily-trafficked areas. I’m thinking particularly of the sidewalks just east of the railroad tracks on both sides of Main St. Hopefully we can plan for some improvements here for the pieces that 300 East Main’s redevelopment will not address.
  • Closing Weaver Street between the intersection with Main/Roberson and the Weaver/Greensboro intersection yields a pretty minimal impact to the overall traffic conditions but provides a fantastic livability dividend to everyone who gets to enjoy the street. We’ve had a long-term closure of this space for the Weaver Street re-construction and multiple events like CMF and Carrboro Open Streets show us that the town can not only survive, but THRIVE- without that roadway capacity.  We should think about what an opportunity that is for Carrboro to create a public space unlike any other in a town our size.  More on that in a future post.


Did you have any observations you’d like to share from  CMF 2013?  Please add them in the comments!



Written by

Filed under: Art, Carrboro, Culture, Parking, Piazzas, Plazas, Parks and Squares, Public Transit, Street Design, Walking

2 Responses to "Quick Thoughts on Carrboro Music Festival 2013"

  1. blakeR says:

    I loved CMF as usual, but sadly my biggest takeaway was a negative. I went after my 3 year-old son’s nap with plans to hang out until about bedtime, get some dinner, and then head back home. After meeting some friends at the Fifth Season stage and hearing some solid indie rock, we went looking for food. . . apart from the packed Wendy’s, Weaver, and Armadillo Grill there was NOTHING until we got to some food trucks around the railroad tracks in front of Cradle. In hindsight we should have headed west down main street and checked out Tres Amigos.

    My main point is that I would have expected the downtown area to be HOPPING with food truck activity, but it seems like most of them were confined to the relative Siberia of the Farmer’s Market. At the prime spot next to Cliff’s Meat Market there was just a donut and coffee truck. . . no offense but that’s not gonna be enough for my kid’s dinner.

    I hope that CMF planners will take this into account for next year. I understand if local fast food joints (Wendy’s, Weaver?) might object to food trucks taking their business, but the reality is that they could not functionally serve all the people who were crowding their registers anyway. This was the only blemish on an otherwise beautiful day, and one that seems pretty easy to both recognize and correct.

    1. Patrick says:

      Blake- thanks for your comment and sorry we missed you guys later in the day. I think the food truck rules that Carrboro has require an agreement between the truck and a private property owner or an organization renting a public space (i.e. TABLE doing a mini-rodeo fundraiser at Town Commons, etc)

      One idea your comment spurs for me is what if the Town made the parking lot on West Weaver St a food truck court for CMF day only? The street is closed for most of the event so that parking is not in play for the day for visitors. The only restaurant near that lot is Provence, and they’re a brunch-only place on Sundays when the CMF is held. Would you guys have walked from Fifth Season to that lot (across from PNC bank) if there were 3 to 5 food trucks there?

Leave a Reply