A big welcome to all the people coming downtown for the Azalea Festival. Those of us who live in the downtown have two schools of thought; Flee or shelter in place. We love all of it really, but having thousands of people show up in your neighborhood, can be a bit much for anyone. And you can't blame those who flee the crowds, traffic, and congestion but that is not us: we do the full festival weekend but definitely from the neighborhood perspective.
Shelter in place is probably too harsh because we aren't huddled in the dark. We are just staying home. First rule is don't plan on leaving. In that aspect it is sort of like preparing for a storm. We get all the food and other essentials (beverages) and stock up before the onslaught of attendees. With all the people, restaurants and even bars can be really crowded, and a short jaunt to the store is likely to turn out to be neither short nor a jaunt. We do sometimes get street food, which is good for a meal or possibly two, but we don't want it to form your complete diet for the weekend. Better to have stuff at the house for the likely impromptu gatherings among the remaining neighbors.
Secondly we embrace the crowd at least for short periods. While we generally skip the parade except for hanging out on a neighbor's porch and watching the floats line up down third street. We do tend to wander through the street fair and enjoy seeing all the people and booths. We also especially enjoy the festival art show for a bit of culture and always vote for our favorites.
But we also embrace the alternative. You may not have heard of it but the Alt-Zalea festival on north Forth street but you really should know about it. The alternate celebration is the place to connect with a smaller and more local vibe. It always has great stuff with local arts and crafts vendors along with great local music. Its definitely worth checking out. It kicks off around noon basically after the parade. Brooklyn Cafe is a good first stop if you want a late start with great coffee and beignets, plus it has local artist set up all around.
We generally avoid the big headline shows and will skip Ice Cube this year. We actually hope to attend the Paper Stars at Palate this Saturday night. They play a great mix of original music and Palate is hard to beat on a warm spring evening. If bluegrass is more your thing our friends Masonboro Sound are playing at Edward Teach starting at 8. After the music there is a lighted bike parade and I'm pretty sure that shouldn't ever be missed.
So enjoy the flowers, pageantry, street fair and parade and welcome to our neighborhood. Those who haven't fled are glad you are here. Also don't forget the Alt-Zalea on north Fourth for a whole different experience. Hope to see you there...