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10 things to know about the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival is a biannual event in Chatham County featuring music, art and workshops with a focus toward being family friendly. This year’s fall festival kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday.
Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival is a biannual event in Chatham County featuring music, art and workshops with a focus toward being family friendly. This year’s fall festival kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday.

The Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival starts Oct. 6. Some students know what it is, some don't — but it's a local institution that deserves to be known. For those new to Shakori and those returning, here are 10 facts that you didn't know about the Pittsboro festival. 

1. It’s very family-friendly

Sara Waters, co-coordinator for the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, said that it differs from the stereotypical festival scene in that it has a lot of activities for kids. 

“It’s definitely all ages, but we’re very supportive of families and we have a lot of kids activities,” Waters said. “I think we’re unique in that there are a lot of different age ranges, there’s a lot of college students, a lot of young families, and then a lot of older, retired folks.”

2. The food and art are local

Many different food options are available at the festival, and most of those options are locally-sourced and owned. There are also a ton of craft stalls and local artists selling their work. 

Sydney Tillman, a senior strategic communication major, went to the festival last year, and said she loved all the local and independently owned food fare. 

“I guess it’s different in the sense that it’s very localized,” she said. “I think most of the vendors and the food that they have there is all from local restaurants, local coffee shops or local vendors.”

3. Parking is free ONLY if you carpool

According to the festival’s website, if you have four or more people in your car, you can park in the festival’s designated parking area for free. There are even ways to connect with others to organize carpools. 

Otherwise, it’s $10 for the entire weekend per car, or $5 per day, per car. 

4. It’s all type of roots music, not just American

While the general theme of the festival is Americana and folk, Waters said that the list of performers isn’t limited to American music. There’s Latin music, and an all-woman mariachi band called “Mariachi Flor de Toloache” performing Thursday night. 

Shakori is also a dance festival, with a tent set up specifically for dance acts. The festival even hosts dance workshops.

A full performance lineup can be found here, and a schedule can be found here.

5. It rains, like, every year

While the staff makes sure to keep attendees updated about the weather on the Shakori Hills home page, Tillman said it’s somewhat cursed: it rains every year.

“They have some kind of curse, it rains every time,” she said. “There’s mud everywhere, so I went and was not prepared.”

She said it’s ideal to bring rainproof clothing, especially with the predicted inclement weather this weekend.

“Bring some rain boots or some type of boots, or just be prepared to go barefoot,” she said. “I had to go barefoot the first day I was there because my shoes broke.”

6. The staff is ready to help you at every need

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Waters said one of the many great things about Shakori is the staff.

“It’s a pretty cool festival in that the staff is really good at figuring things out on the fly,” she said. “The staff is always prepared for everything and we all get along well and we work well as a team.”

There are also multiple volunteer opportunities, which Tillman did last year, and she said it got her into the festival for free.

“It’s also a great way to contribute to the festival,” she said. “And then you get to meet a lot of people.”

7. There are multiple local advocacy groups and nonprofits present

There are seven different local advocacy groups present to help spread the words about things they’re doing to help the community, including Chatham County Beekeepers' Association and Green Science Policy Institute.

8. Sarah Potenza, performing Thursday and Friday night, was on "The Voice" 

“She was actually on 'The Voice' and did fairly well,” Waters said. “Now she’s got a new album and she’s country, but kind of like Janis Joplin country.” 

Potenza’s audition for The Voice has over 1.9 million views on YouTube. Waters said she’s one of the acts she’s most excited for. 

“She’s a very good songwriter, and just an amazing singer,” she said.

9. The festival has a strong sense of community

With all the local charities and local food, it’s easy to see why Shakori feels very community-first.

“There’s a really big emphasis on community,” Tillman said. “And it’s always really easy to meet people and talk to people. It felt like home.”

Jesse Mechanic, a senior communications major, went to the festival last year and is going this year as well. He also said that the kindness of everyone there has kept him coming back. 

“It’s pretty small, so there’s a certain point where you meet a bunch of people and see them around,” he said. “Then just say, ‘hey’ to random people, and it’s really nice.”

10. It happens all again in the spring

Shakori happens twice a year, with another festival taking place this spring. If you miss it in the fall, you’ve got another chance to see what all the hype is about.