Raleigh Wide Open Canceled

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The city has canceled the annual Raleigh Wide Open festival for 2011 because of budget concerns.

Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen, who made the call to cancel the event, said cutting the festival will save the city $150,000 to $180,000 for the year.

Allen is in the process of drafting the city’s budget for the next fiscal year and plans to present his proposal to the city council May 17.

“We were looking for savings and expenses and this popped onto our radar,” Allen sad.

Raleigh Wide Open has sponsors, but the city still has to spend at least $150,000 to pay for staff time, fireworks, cleanup and everything else that goes into the event.

City councilors have full discretion on the budget, Allen said, so they could reinstate the festival. But, Allen said, he made the announcement about canceling Raleigh Wide Open now because now is when they need to start planning the three-day festival.

Raleigh Wide Open began in 2006 to celebrate the return of vehicular traffic on Fayetteville Street.  Many of the subsequent Raleigh Wide Open festivals have saluted the arrival of new buildings, including the Raleigh Convention Center, the new City Plaza and the arrival of the Raleigh Amphitheater.

Allen said other factors for the cancellation are the lack of a specific reason to celebrate and the fact that Raleigh just hosted the NHL All-Star game and street party in January.

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