Wide Open Bluegrass to stay in Raleigh through 2021

Thursday, May 31, 2018
World of Bluegrass will stay in Raleigh
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World of Bluegrass will stay in Raleigh

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- The International Bluegrass Music Association's Wide Open Bluegrass will stay in Raleigh through 2021, Mayor Nancy McFarlane announcedThursday.

"Raleigh has fallen in love with bluegrass and I think it's fair to say that bluegrass is in love with Raleigh," she said during a news conference outside the Raleigh Convention Center.

World of Bluegrass runs September 25-29 in downtown Raleigh. Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder will feature a guest appearance by Patty Loveless, it was announced Thursday.

"The success over the first five years and going now into our sixth year was really the catalyst for wanting to extend for another three years," said Paul Schiminger, IBMA Executive Director.

Mayor McFarlane said the festival has generated more than $48 million for Wake County in its five years in Raleigh.

McFarlane said World of Bluegrass is the event that draws the most people to the City of Oaks, with more than 221,000 people attending last year.

The deal gives the festival $175,000 in Wake County and City of Raleigh business development funds annually, starting in 2018. That's $75,000 more than last year.

Loren Gold, Executive Vice President of the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the funds come from a combination of lodging and food and beverage taxes, not from the general fund.

"IBMA will not receive those funds directly," Gold said. "They'll go to offset rental at the facility, and they go to offset security charges, transportation charges, enhanced exhibit costs, things of that nature."

IBMA will receive an additional $90,000 in combined total cash to apply towards expenses in 2019-2021. Of that, $30,000 comes from the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh) and $60,000 comes from the City of Raleigh via previously budgeted line items, said a spokesman for Visit Raleigh.