CHARLOTTE — It’s hard to capture in words the energy that arises when thousands of like-minded people come together in one place, for one purpose. From the chants of “Four more years!” to the Barack Obama pins on every collar, the Democratic National Convention is full of patriotic energy.
This city helped to celebrate the DNC by staging CarolinaFest — an open to the public, multi-block fair filled with food, music and all sorts of red, white and blue knickknacks. The event shut down traffic in a third of downtown and packed the streets with pedestrians, activists and vendors. Below are just a few photos of Monday’s street party.
Legacy Village was the first attraction to greet visitors. Occupying an entire block, the area offered educational activities and an introduction to local charity projects. Craftsman House United — a collaboration of multiple charities — displayed an in-progress house to the right of the entrance. Volunteers will keep construction going during the DNC and donate the house to a veteran in need after Thursday.
From left, Oklahoma delegates Sache Primeaux, Brondalyn Coleman and Bailey Perkins munched on some street food in the Carolina Cuisine block of the festival. They were excited to meet other liberal minds beyond the “four [street] blocks” of Democrats in their home state. Coleman said she hopes to meet the president. Or at least “brush shoulders and know what his cologne smells like,” she joked.
Vendors catered to the delegates’ enthusiasm with all sorts of Obama merchandise. T-shirts and buttons were the standard.
But much stranger goods — like these packages of image-printed candies–were also in abundance.
Artists set up multiple booths at the festival to peddle their own renditions of iconic images of the POTUS. Note the sequined “Yes We Can” T-shirt on the left.
Others got more creative with their pro-Democratic merchandise. This stand sold books entitled “Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus,” a parody of the popular children’s book, “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems, enumerating wacky plans a crazed vulture character had in store. Authors Erich Origen and Gan Golan stood nearby, dressed as Uncle Sam and a blue vulture, posing for pictures with festival attendees.
Various types of security were a constant presence at every corner of the festival. Here, a group of nine on-foot police officers monitor the action from the sidewalk.
The CarolinaFest main stage, on the corner of Trade and Tryon streets, hosted the event’s biggest acts. The afternoon brought Jeff Bridges and the Abiders, “The Dude’s” new country music band. Bridges asked the audience to donate to the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign in between songs — he’s the national spokesperson for the charity.
Bridges’ ensemble was cut short by a sudden torrential downpour that scattered the crowd and damaged the stage equipment. Bridges exited early as stage hands scrambled to cover the weather-beaten speakers with tarps. While a few attendees came prepared with umbrellas and raincoats, most hid under any available overhang. This woman wrung out her soaked shirt after the rain ceased.
Wet, but undeterred, the crowd reconvened in front of the main stage and awaited the final act, North Carolina’s own James Taylor. Rain or shine, the people of CarolinaFest were determined to have a good time.
All photos by Ilona Idlis.