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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Centerfest is back 

It is our consistent contention at the Clarion Content that Durham's fabulous present could not and would not exist as it does, were it not for the stalwarts of its past. Once such pillar, Durham's thirty-eight year old tradition, Centerfest is back.

The Clarion Content is not edited by native Durhamanians. Si, we have been here many years, double digits now, but perhaps it is best if we leave it to a native to express his faith in Centerfest and what Centerfest means to Durham1

Eli McDuffie, lead singer of the local music sensation, LiLa, on Centerfest...

Special thanks to Eric Chen, aka The Cota Flota, for digging up this footage.

Cliche though it may sound, not only is Centerfest back, it is even better than ever. The Durham Arts Council organized a series of focus groups and in a display of the pique2 and pluck that makes Durham what it is, DAC responded to what they said.

They have added a role for creative community groups, they have more local, young, musical acts and a sweet new location that reflects Centerfest's role at the heart of Durham's art and culture community. This year Centerfest is going to be smack in the middle of Durham, downtown inside the loop.

The new location will encompass Morris Street, in front of the Durham's Arts Council's own building. Main Street from Bull McCabe's3 to Revolution, as well as Chapel Hill Street, and the connecting Five Points intersection in front of Toast along past Dame's Chicken and Waffles to Major the Bull's Plaza, the area in front of the Suntrust Building, ni swank hotel to be, and perhaps extend all the way to the Orange Street corridor. What a setting!4

In a much need twist, since the last time Centerfest was held in this location5 the storefronts were nearly empty, the Durham Arts Council is partnering with local businesses up and down these blocks. Businesses along the streets encompassed that sponsor Centerfest will be listed in the program and be able to vend on the sidewalk, just like the artists who have purchased booths.

The Durham Arts Council told the Clarion Content that there will be more than 120 artists represented, and as many as forty musical acts, along with the usual fun like facepainting, arts and crafts. There will be multiple stages for music, including one in Major the Bull's Plaza and perhaps one in front of the Green Wall.

There are still a few unanswered questions. Including, what role will the legendary Durham Food Truck community play? What are the festival hours6 and admissions charges?7 Will there be a nighttime element? And if not, will the streets remain blocked off over night?

Centerfest has come a long way, been with Durham through thick and thin. This year's 38th addition is going to be a blast. We can wait to hear the rest of the story.

Notes and further thoughts
1Durham is place that loves itself so much, it married itself. Let's keep the fun going!

2By pique we mean cahojnes, institutional verve.

3Rumors abound about potential collaborations afoot.

4As we saw through the Holiday Art Walk and the Durham Storefront Project exhibits last year, this part of town is a vibrant, eclectic stage.

5The stories from this era abound, the Durham Arts Council and a documentary filmmaker could speak to just about every node in Durham's recent cultural renaissance and there is a Centerfest related backstory, from performing in Sedgewick's Wooden Nickel to the Y.P.P.C. to playing in front of 9th Street Bakery with "Goats where They Shouldn't be."

6There was lots of public support for a nighttime element to Centerfest, but also security and cost concerns.

7The focus groups suggested $5-$10, with kids under 12 free. Previous year's admissions had been a $4 suggested donation per person and recently Centerfest had been losing money.

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