The Historic Morganton Festival will return this year for three weekends with music, food and fun.
The festival is typically one weekend jam packed with family-friendly music and activities, but due to COVID-19, the festival will be a little different this year.
Abby Nelson, Morganton Main Street director, is the assistant director for the Historic Morganton Festival, and she is excited to see how the community reacts to this year’s event setup.
“The Historic Morganton Festival is structured a little differently this year due to us addressing COVID,” Nelson said. “We’re excited to be back in 2022 with the usual festival that everyone has come to know and love. We are just so happy to be able to come back this year with an event after putting 2020 on pause for the festival. This will be the first event at the new courthouse square.
“We separated the event out over three weekends, and they’re all going to be on the courthouse square. Our first weekend is Aug. 27 and 28, our second weekend is Labor Day weekend, so Sept. 3 and 4, and the final of the three weekends will be Sept. 10 and 11.”
The Historic Morganton Festival will be a smaller-scale event this year due to the planning process beginning when COVID-19 restrictions and mass-gathering regulations were still enforced. The Morganton Main Street office decided to create a smaller event so the community could still enjoy the festival at some capacity.
“The reason why we split it up into three weekends was because back in the early spring, we were putting a plan together,” Nelson said. “We were still under COVID regulations and mass gathering restrictions, and we wanted to plan an event that could happen that day. We wanted to be able to make sure that we provided a safe event, especially now that we are coming out of COVID and out of these regulations, we wanted to air on the side of caution.
“So we significantly decreased the footprint of the festival, so it’s on the courthouse square, as well as on East Union and East Meeting Street. We have combined elements of the TGIF summer concert series and the Historic Morganton Festival to create three unique weekends late summer, early fall.”
Each weekend will be filled with a different band, vendors and themes.
“Not only are we going to have three different bands each Friday evening, we are going to have different food vendors and majority different craft vendors each weekend,” Nelson said. “People can come every weekend and experience a different event. On top of all of that, we have different editions that are going to be happening through each weekend. Our first weekend, we have the sunrise run and the student fitness challenge, which takes place at Catawba Meadows Park on the greenway. We also are going to have LAMM events. They’re going to be coming that first weekend as well.
“They will be providing inflatable games, we’re going to have a gem mine on East Union Street and it’s going to be a lot of fun. The second weekend, Labor Day weekend, is going to have a more art-focused event throughout that weekend. … The last weekend, Sept. 10 and 11, is the MADE competition, which engages our middle school and high school students. That takes place on East Union Street.”
Nelson and the Main Street team saw the event as an opportunity to reach out to local vendors and provide them with a chance to be involved in the festival for all three weekends.
“It was an opportunity for us to extend the invite out to all of our handmade craft vendors and all of our usual festival food vendors,” Nelson said. “Even though it is a smaller footprint of an event, we’re going to be able to meet and shop with many of our favorite vendors each of the three weekends.”
There will be one band headlining the event for each weekend. The bands that will be performing are Carolina Soul Band, Tuatha Dea and the Ace Party Band.
“Carolina Soul Band and Tuatha Dea, they have performed at our TGIF summer concert series before and they are crowd favorites,” Nelson said. “Carolina Soul Band is a full group of musicians, and they put on a great show. The do a variety of soul music from people like Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and throw in a little mix of Motown and beach music to their performances as well. They are high energy and a lot of fun.
“Tuatha Dea, they’re a group of musicians who identify as Celtic tribal gypsy rock. They have wonderful instruments. They even have a digeridoo and various drums. They really get the crowd involved in their shows. They even have members who are local to Morganton.
“The Ace Party Band, they are new to Morganton and they’ve never been here before. I saw them at the ShowFest Conference hosted by the N.C. Association of Festivals and Events. … They were by far the most energetic, the most musically talented group that I witnessed. I was so impressed with their performance and how they engaged with the audience.
Even though the event will be different than in years past, Nelson is excited for the community to experience the Historic Morganton Festival at some capacity this year.
“We couldn’t put on this free community event, we’re actually approaching about 40 years of free community events through the Downtown Historic Morganton festival,” Nelson said. “That’s all because of our wonderful sponsors. Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge is our presenting sponsor, and we could not do it without them or without the support of the community.”
Sydni Hall is a staff writer and can be reached at 828-432-8907 or at email@example.com.