...about PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass

You’re tri-chair of the World of Bluegrass Raleigh Local Organizing Committee (LOC). Who is on the committee, and how do members work together to make the Wide Open Bluegrass event especially happen?

I, along with our other tri-chairs, Laurie Okun, director of business development at the Raleigh Convention Center(RCC), and William Lewis, executive director of PineCone, Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, lead a team of 13 from the staffs of the GRCVB, RCC and PineCone, along with five contractors each year, to assist in the planning and execution of the City of Raleigh’s largest festival and the largest urban bluegrass festival in the United States.

This LOC is divided into 10 sub-committees that include sponsorship, finance, signature event, arts activation, community activation, marketing/media relations, technology, VIP care, volunteers and business development. Each of these sub-committees have approximately 20 volunteers from retail merchant organizations, community districts, parking, transportation and airport companies. Add to that public relations, marketing and communications professionals from the private and public sector and bluegrass musicians.

It is a total volunteer effort! Each person serves to elevate Raleigh and for the love of music, events and community. Work is divided into each of these sub-committees and executed at a collaborative and productive level. With 200,000+ people filling our streets one weekend in Sept., we see the results of the entire LOC's vision, hard work and dedication.

IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass

What is it about Wide Open Bluegrass or the LOC that you wish our partners knew or understood that they may not?

The LOC has an annual operating budget of approximately $450,000, which yields $11.5 million in direct economic impact for Raleigh and Wake County. This is a conservative estimate that does not include local spending by resident attendees, nor does it include a multiplier of indirect or induced impacts from visitor spending. It represents direct visitor spending only, which is new money coming into the local economy.

The festival not only boosts the destination's economy and supports local businesses but also garners national media coverage, welcomes thousands of visitors to experience our area hospitality and solidifies Raleigh, N.C.'s reputation as the state's leading live music destination.

What have the last four years of Wide Open Bluegrass events taught you about Raleigh/Wake County? What do you know now that you didn’t know the first year? 

Our destination is truly blessed with people who, when given a mutually agreed-upon goal, a vision, aligned expectations and resources, can accomplish anything. Collaboration is the key, and it is very much a part of our community’s DNA!  

Every year we continue to improve, refine and focus not only the many intricate details of a festival of this size, but we look to improve the festival attendees' experience. Visitation and festivals like PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass continue to evolve, and we want to stay ahead of the changes and deliver a unique experience that someone can only get in Raleigh, N.C.! These large demand-generators not only deliver ROI to the community, but also they deliver incredible brand attributes of our destination.


Photos by Garrett Poulos and Brian Magee