Cary’s signature arts festival will span two days – and take place on the Town Hall campus – for the near future after a trial expansion last year.
The Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts festival has been held the last weekend of August since 1977. In recent years, it has drawn as many as 50,000 people to downtown Cary.
For the past two years, construction along the festival’s usual South Academy Street location pushed the event north across the railroad tracks to the courtyards of the Town Hall Campus. Last year, for the festival’s 40th anniversary, the event expanded to two days for the first time.
While construction has finished on South Academy Street, Lyman Collins, the town’s cultural arts manager, said attendees and artists told the town they enjoyed the shade and easy access to air-conditioned buildings and restrooms in the Town Hall location.
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A staff report said the second day of the festival requires an additional $25,000 in town money.
“Two-thirds of artists preferred two-day festival,” Collins said. “There are some logistical advantages to a two-day event, including not having to do setup and takedown on same day. It gives people more options, and weather variability is less of a concern.”
Councilman Don Frantz said the addition of Sunday as a festival day would likely keep the event from returning to South Academy Street, which is home to Cary’s First Baptist and First United Methodist churches.
“You didn’t feel like sardines in a can going from vendor to vendor,” Frantz said. “I don’t know if I ever see us going back to a one-day festival. If I’m a betting man, which I am, I see it staying on campus for two days, and I’m totally cool with that.”
Council joins transit agreement
Despite some council members’ misgivings, Cary’s council approved in a 5-1 vote an interlocal agreement that will tack an additional $7 onto vehicle registration fees in the county.
But increased county license and registration fees, which weren’t on the ballot, are also needed to fulfill the plan’s goals. Those include a commuter rail service from Garner to Durham and a dramatic expansion of bus service countywide.
The new tax will be added to renewals mailed starting in July. It is expected to generate about $6 million annually. Driver’s license fees are also jumping from $5 to $8.
“When we were talking about raising the tax, it was always a half-cent sales tax,” Councilman Ken George said. “It seemed like this was hidden in the discussions and the advertisements. I think Cary citizens have been doing their part for the state, helping improve their roads, and I do believe this double- or triple-taxes them.”
George voted to approve the agreement, however. Frantz cast the only vote in opposition.
“We get a lot of value by participating in this,” Councilwoman Lori Bush said. “A huge expansion of GoCary into areas we’ve been dying to expand into – we can’t get to all the senior affordable care communities who desperately need access to fixed routes. And we’re going to get one of the first (bus rapid transit) expansions, through the heart of Cary.”
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan