For one day in July, visitors to Dix Park will be able to drink locally brewed beer, sample food truck fare and capture an unprecedented view of downtown Raleigh from a Ferris wheel.
From a sprawling lawn on the 308-acre campus, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane on Thursday morning announced the city’s plans to host a free, day-long festival called Destination Dix on July 23.
The festival will take place on the large lawn behind the State Farmers Market and feature live music, art, food trucks, beer vendors and “a variety of activities designed to offer the public a glimpse of the history of the property, a sample of the current park opportunities and a chance to share ideas and weigh in on the future plans for Dorothea Dix Park,” McFarlane said.
The $100,000 event comes one year after Raleigh bought the Dix land from the state for $52 million. It’ll feature beer and wine vendors, a Ferris wheel, tethered hot air balloon rides and activities for kids.
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City leaders have said they want to build a destination park without compromising the land’s character or erasing its past. The July festival is one of several efforts by the city and the Dix Park Conservancy, Raleigh’s nonprofit partner, that aims to generate interest in the planning process.
We want to hear from you. And be as creative and imaginative as you can as we begin to consider all of the park possibilities.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane
“We want to hear from you,” McFarlane said Thursday. “And be as creative and imaginative as you can as we begin to consider all of the park possibilities.”
Raleigh recently started accepting applications from residents who want to serve on a 45-member advisory committee that will help design the park and engage the public in the planning process. The group will advise an executive committee of elected officials, city staff and conservancy members who will have final say over the park’s design.
The city has also been offering weekly walking tours of the park, and the conservancy plans to underwrite exercise classes, outdoor art classes and other free programs at the park this summer.
“I promise you, if you stand up by the Flower House (elsewhere on the property) and you look across the field and you see downtown, you will get goosebumps,” said Jim Goodmon, president and CEO of Capitol Broadcasting Company who serves as the conservancy’s president.
Indie-folk band Bombadil of Durham and bluegrass band Chatham County Line of Raleigh will headline the music shows at the festival. Food trucks will line the large field, but McFarlane said the city will also allow visitors to bring outside food and enjoy it at picnic tables the city plans to install.
She noted one drawback in the festival plans. Because much of the Dix campus is under lease, the city will be unable to offer on-site parking for the event. Raleigh will, however, offer free shuttle services from several downtown sites, including N.C. State’s Centennial Campus.
The city plans to offer more details about the festival as the event date draws near.