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.
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:
- 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!