Shakori Hills Grassroots Music Festival

20 04 2011

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As the weather gets warmer and graduation draws near, a number of outdoor music events start popping up on my radar – and no, I’m not just referring to Old Duke and LDOC.  While you can surely find a wide range of mainstream concerts in major metropolitan areas like Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, or Wilmington, the true gems of North Carolina tend to be the bluegrass and country festivals in lesser known areas.

The Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in Pittsboro is a prime example of a music and arts festival that really exposes the best of what North Carolina has to offer.  Shakori Hills is a biannual festival, taking place in the fall and spring of each year since 2003.  The event spans four days, with over 50 bands of a variety of genres (largely bluegrass and folk) performing on acres and acres of rolling meadows.  The venue features two large outdoor stages, an indoor dance tent, and a cabaret tent, as well as numerous craft shows, activities, food vendors, and environmental sustainability workshops.

And sorry for the late notice – the festival is this weekend.  At just under an hour away, however, there is no need for planning much in advance.  I’d recommend driving over for one day and purchasing a daily pass at the door.  Or, if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the entire experience, overnight camping is encouraged – so long as you purchase tickets for both the day before and after your stay.

Go ahead and take a look at the dozens of performers scheduled to appear; however, for a lot of us, most of the names are unlikely to ring a bell.  But no matter.  A trip to Shakori Hills is about the whole experience – in between musical sets, you’ll likely gobble down some kind of organic vegetarian dish or succulent dessert while enjoying some excellent people watching.  The festival draws people of all ages and walks of life, and you will surely see quite a few characters.  Check out this video of a man dancing all by himself before one of the stages:

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If you’re already booked for this weekend, we’re just a week away from a similar festival in Wilkesboro called Merlefest, which also features some big name artists like Zac Brown Band.

But if you’re like me, you’ll embrace your spontaneous side and drive out to Shakori on Saturday or Sunday – see you there!

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The wrap-up:

  • Distance from Duke: just under 1 hour
  • Recommended trip duration: day trip or overnight
  • Recommended season: Spring or Fall
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