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It’s time for Raleigh to up its game for big events.
Dorothea Dix Park likely never before saw the mass crowds that graced its green lawns April 2–3—when J. Cole’s second Dreamville Festival (this time taking place over two days) brought in 80,000 attendees from all 50 states, plus 14 countries (!), despite a three-year hiatus. Talk about a fan base.
But while most will say the festival was a great success (Ari Lennox called it “the best festival ever”—and we agree!), it had its shortcomings—the biggest of which was the lack of cell service throughout the festival grounds, and, in turn, the struggle to meet up with friends and/or order a ride home. A less than dreamy situation if you ask us.
Which leads us to our point: Raleigh needs to do better if it’s going to play host to epic events equal to the likes of Dreamville—which of course is what we all want. And it doesn’t stop at cell service. There’s also concerns like lodging, parking, public transportation, etc.
Dreamville is not an anomaly in terms of mass events for which our fair city already plays host. Every year, the City of Oaks attracts visitors from all over for festivals and events such as the NC State Fair, Artsplosure, Hopscotch, IBMA Bluegrass Live! (the largest free urban bluegrass festival in the world) and Brewgaloo—to name a few. Not only do out-of-towners expect (and pay for) an exceptional experience that’ll have them coming back for more, our city is on full display—and we need to act the part.
And not just because we want fun fests (though who doesn’t) or to draw the oohs and aahs of visitors. As a result of the tens of thousands of people Dreamville alone drew to the area, the fest benefits the city financially, providing a huge economic boost for Raleigh businesses. While the 2022 number has yet to be announced, 2019’s festival brought in a whopping $3.8 million to businesses!
So, yeah—a cell tower or two, a new hotel, maybe some better public transportation could really take ole Raleigh to the next level when it comes to hosting future events. Because despite the fact that J. Cole “put my city on the map,” we’ve still got a lot of work to do.
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