“It’s very much supported by our Orange County and Chatham County community, and it’s been that way since the beginning,” Dean said. “It’s very organic, and grassroots is a real thing at Shakori.”
Although the festival’s attendees are primarily North Carolina natives, Dean said there are many concertgoers that travel long distances for Shakori.
“We’ve got a crew that comes from New York every year,” Dean said. "We’ve got folks that come from Georgia and Virginia, and we’ve seen some sales in Europe as well.”
The festival’s average fall turnout is 3,000 attendees. Dean said the festival is on track to match or slightly exceed that number for this year’s event.
The Fritz, a funk band that performed at last year’s fall festival, is eager to return to Shakori Hills. Mikey “Spice” Evans, The Fritz’s percussionist, said the 2018 festival was fun for the group.
“I love the festival,” Evans said. “I love the grounds and we had a great time there the first time around.”
Evans said the festival’s team of organizers sets it apart from others.
“The staff is really close-knit with each other,” Evans said. “It really shows when it comes down to how they treat the artists and how well-organized everything is.”
Cas Haley, a singer-songwriter who has appeared on "America’s Got Talent," will be a first-time Shakori Hills performer this fall. He said he has heard great things about the festival.
“I met some of the GrassRoots family in Ithaca, New York, where a lot of the people who run the festival are from,” Haley said. “That’s how I got hip to the GrassRoots festival.”
Haley said he is looking forward to the family-friendly nature of the festival as well as the other performers.
“I’m really excited about seeing the other acts like Galactic,” Haley said. “I’m also excited about the family vibes. We travel with our family and kids, so I’m excited about going to a family-vibe festival.”
Another aspect of the festival that excites Haley is its emphasis on environmental sustainability.
“With a lot of the big festivals around, if you look at the area after the people leave, it’s just trash like a landfill,” Haley said. “I’m excited about being a part of something that doesn’t just destroy the piece of property that they have the festival on.”
Sustainability has become a major focus of the festival.
“We have sustainability workshops that go on all four days,” Dean said.
Dean said student volunteers help to to keep the grounds environmentally friendly.
“We do have volunteer opportunities that are still available, and we get a lot of volunteers from UNC, N.C. State and Duke,” Dean said.
Volunteers at Shakori Hills are rewarded with free admission to the festival.
“If you work two to three shifts, then you get a four day-pass," Dean said. "It’s a good way for folks that want to volunteer to get some hours and get involved at the festival.”
Dean said the Shakori Hills experience is ideal for anyone who wants to get involved in their community and support live music.
“I encourage everybody to check out what’s happening on the stages, but it’s also a greater sense of community and an experience,” Dean said. “The vibe and the community there is unlike any other.”