The Carrboro Music Festival is Carrboro’s greatest day - and it's all free! This year the date is Sunday, September 28th, beginning at 1pm. Since its inception in 1998 (originally called Fête de la Musique), the Music Fest has drawn musicians and music lovers from all over. Each year the players change on the 25 stages from one end of Carrboro to the other, but the sweet strains of music that fill the town are nothing short of incredible! In 2013, we got even more applications, which was great! The day featured around 180 bands on 25 stages, all over town!
In The Beginning
The Carrboro Music Festival started out in 1998 with a handful of dedicated volunteers
who insisted they could pull off a music festival with no money and not much
more than great expectations. They had a lot of confidence in the giving nature of the local music community. There were those who attempted to dissuade them, warning of the perils that go along with a project of this proportion. The committee was undeterred. Through the generosity of countless musicians, the support and encouragement of Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson (who was on the original committee) and the Board of Aldermen, a small amount of funding from the Town, and many donations from Carrboro businesses and individuals, the Carrboro Music Festival was born.
Through the efforts and contributions of Elizabeth and Cyril Boisson, the festival started out as part of the French celebration known as Fête de
la Musique, a free festival of music celebrated worldwide on the summer solstice.
From 1998 through 2001, Carrboro was one of only a few United States Fête de
la Musique venues officially recognized by the Ministry of France, receiving posters each year as a goodwill gesture. Other cities included New York City and San Francisco. We were honored to be a part of it.
The Fête brought together musicians of every persuasion who played for free at stages from one end of town to the other. In Carrboro we moved the Fête to the closest Sunday to June 21st, celebrating Father's Day at the same time. This initiated a great annual event to bring Dad to that was free and fun for the whole family.
In 2000, the 20th anniversary of the international Fête de la Musique was celebrated in more than 100 countries all over the world. In 2001, Carrboro was an official venue for the last time. A cooler month needed to be chosen for Carrboro's music festival, when more folks were around to volunteer.
Changes In 2002
When the members of the Fête de la Musique Committee
met on a Wednesday night in February, 2002, we
made a decision that was a long time coming. The annual celebration of
music, which was entering into a fifth year, would still be "The Fête" to
all who participated, and in that tradition be a day filled with music all over Carrboro, it would just fall a few months later. The committee had several reasons for reaching this decision.
There were a lot of difficulties with planning an event of this magnitude on the summer solstice. Many folks were vacationing, so the volunteer pool was small. The day of the event was usually hot, making it uncomfortable, and at times unbearable, in a town that can be sweltering come mid-June. Add to that Carrboro Day, which falls in May, and the Carrboro Family Fourth of July Celebration, and planning such a huge event started to get sticky. Unlike other town sponsored events, until 2004 the Carrboro Music Festival was planned primarily by volunteers. Some of these volunteers were also involved in planning the other events. Event planning burnout was on the rise. Fête de la Musique, wedged between the other events, was always the biggest draw, bringing in thousands of folks to our little town on a day divine with music. It needed to happen later in the year.
A Better Date
The new fall date, the last Sunday in September, brought cooler temperatures and more volunteers. With
local high schools and the colleges all in session at this later date, volunteer numbers have grown as word spreads about our festival. After moving the date of the festival to September in 2002, Committee members agreed the right decision had been made.
The Beat Goes On
This year the date is September 28th, 2014. We'll have hundreds of performers all over Carrboro, bringing thousands of people together to enjoy a beautiful day filled with free music, as we celebrate our seventeenth year. Original Carrboro Music Festival Committee members were Elizabeth Boisson, Janet Callahan, Berkeley Grimball, Catherine DeVine, James Harris, Jackie Helvey, Mike Nelson, Janet Place, Joy Preslar, Samia Serageldin, Richard Taylor and Gerry Williams. Current members Helvey, Place, and Williams - who is the festival coordinator for the 13th. and last year in 2014 - have kept the festival alive and thriving, this year with the help of Charlie Berry, Tony Galiani, and Michael Gowan, with Jim Dennis taking the reins as coordinator, and Carrboro Recreation and Parks Recreation Supervisor Rah Trost, all working together to make the Carrboro Music Festival the best it can be in 2014.
Written by Jackie Helvey - a founder and a current member of the Carrboro Music Festival Committee.
Read a funny story written the first year of Fête de la Musique by Berkeley Grimball - Fête Anxiety.
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