The Triangle gears up for a busy weekend of events

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There are several large-scale events coming to the Triangle, with one beginning Thursday evening.

The area is bracing itself for the influx of travelers supporting Pride in Durham, the Art of Cool Festival in Durham, two college football games in Virginia against NC State, and Virginia Tech visiting Duke. The biggest event, in terms of the number of attendees, is the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival in Raleigh.


Musical act Backline, from Spartanburg, SC traveled to Raleigh to attend the bluegrass event. The group, who traveled with a total of 14 people, was forced to rent a house in Apex as a means of saving money.

"It's hard," Kandice Tucker said. Tucker's husband is a member of the band. "You have to plan ahead....you really gotta budget your money to make sure you have enough to come. Last thing you want to do is come and not have any money to do anything."

Several area hotels such as The Umstead, 21c Hotel, Unscripted, the downtown Durham Marriott, and the downtown Raleigh Marriott are all sold out. Hotels that are available currently will cost travelers several hundred to $1,500 dollars with a Thursday check-in and a Sunday check-out.

"We'd probably slept in the car," laughed Larry Smith. His 8-year-old daughter Ashlynn, an accomplished guitarist, is the reason the family is in town. "We try not to add it up, but it's a good expense. You spend a lot of money," Smith added.

In Durham, industry leaders and Art of Cool staff are geared up for Art of Cool. This year features a new owner, a different time of year, and a brand-new concept. Last year, the event brought 6,623 attendees who spent $1.3 million dollars in Durham.

The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau says hotels around this time of year average around a 70 percent occupancy rate. As of last week, hotels were 90 percent occupied. Some of that number due in part to Hurricane Florence evacuees, who have since mostly returned home.

This year, AOC representative Lesleigh Mausi told ABC11, "Our prayer is over 10,000 attendees...even falling short of that would significantly boost economic impact for the area because many of our host hotels are completely sold out."

"We know of attendees who are driving and flying in from out-of-state, so I am expecting favorable effects on tourism for our area," Mausi said via e-mail.

The importance of having enough hotel space is not lost on staff at the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. With large events held in Raleigh and the convention center, staff says that creates a "stress test of us just to show how much we really need bigger, larger, more full-service hotels in the Downtown Raleigh area." In an interview with ABC11, representative Scott Peacock with GRCVB said, "At the end of the day, the hotel package (Raleigh offers), kind of leaves us out from some of the other events (that choose other cities)."
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