is an annual music
and arts street festival
held in downtown Asheville, North Carolina
. The festival has been held annually on the last weekend
in July since the late 1970s. It is the largest free festival in the Southeastern United States
, attracting over 350,000 people. The festival consists of six stages scattered on various street corners in Asheville. A designated area called Arts Park
typically features several dozen regional artists and their work. Displayed art covers a variety of media types including painting, photography, pottery and jewelry. A variety of music genres are represented at the festival, including Country, Blues, Folk, Mountain, Rock and Jazz with both local and nationally (United States) known musicians represented.
A 2007 survey of businesses in downtown Asheville indicated that for over 80% of respondents, the festival was bad for business, resulting in significant revenue declines during the days on which it is held. Two factors contributing to this were the large number of non-local vendors arriving for the event and the rise in vandalism during the festival. Despite this result, more than half felt that if the festival were to continue after 2007, it should remain where it is currently located. The origin of the festival was as a way to bring needed revenue to downtown Asheville; however, since the late 1970s the area has recovered and now is financially hurt by the event. The event is revenue neutral for the local government.citation applies to paragraph