The town’s fourth annual music festival will look different this year, with more bands and food options – and probably more visitors, too.
For the first time, Salem Street downtown will be blocked off during the Apex Jazz & Music Festival, which will start at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Festival chairman Blaine East said organizers are expecting a crowd of 15,000 people, and it will be nice to not have to watch out for traffic.
“We’ve got two wine and beer tents, so people can drink and walk up and down the street,” East said.
Nearly 20 bands will perform during the festival on stages set up along the street and also at bars and restaurants in downtown Apex. They will play jazz, blues, rock, reggae and orchestral music.
The event started out as strictly a jazz festival but has evolved to accommodate a wider variety of tastes, East said. The change has led to bigger crowds.
“We had anywhere between 10,000 and 12,000 on the street last year and are anticipating a bigger crowd this year,” he said. “It’s been growing by about 30 percent each year.”
Proceeds from the event go to local charities and the Apex Downtown Business Association, which hosts the festival.
Most retail stores downtown will stay open later for the crowds, and some will host performances or other events of their own, East said.
He said restaurant owners haven’t complained that the festival will feature seven food trucks. The local eateries couldn’t feed everybody, anyway.
“It’s fabulous,” East said. “For some of the restaurants, this is their busiest day of the year.”
East said he was happy the festival is growing into the kind of pedestrian-friendly weekend event that downtown Raleigh has become known for in recent years. Many people in western Wake County don’t want to drive to Raleigh for those events, he said.
The festival will also last longer this year, with performers playing until 1 a.m. inside and on an outdoor stage until midnight. Last year, festivities wrapped up at 11 p.m.
The Apex Town Council approved the extension earlier this month on the advice of Town Manager Bruce Radford.
“The chief of police believes that can be done since we received not one single noise complaint last year,” Radford said.