MATTHEWS – More than 125,000 people across the Charlotte region are expected to check out the 27th annual Matthews Alive, a four-day downtown festival during Labor Day weekend.
Here are six reasons why you should overcome your fear of crowds to visit the festival.
• Lonestar – Lonestar was on top of the world in 1999 when “Amazed” not only hit number one on the country charts, but also crossed over into mainstream pop playlists. Twenty years later, they’re headlining Matthews Alive. They’ll likely perform songs from their latest album, “Never Enders.” Catch them on the main stage at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 1.
• Music variety – Some of the Southeast’s biggest touring acts perform during the festival. Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot and The Tams perform during Beach Night on Aug. 30. All day pop and rock performances culminate Aug. 31 with a performance by Tusk, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. Of course, Lonestar will top off a day of country rock and harmonies on Sept. 1. Sept. 2 will bring indie and folk music to the main stage. Jazz and R&B can be heard on the indoor stage Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
• Parade – Billed as the Southeast’s largest Labor Day parade, Matthews Alive will attract more than 100 entries, including high school marching bands, classic cars and floats. The parade starts at a new time – 9:30 a.m. Aug. 31 – with the theme “Attitude of Gratitude – What are you grateful for?” Register to be in the parade through Aug. 16.
• Kid’s activities – Children will love the carnival-like atmosphere with food, music and rides, but they’ll also squeal with delight from a petting zoo, butterfly exhibit and train at the Kids Connection. A children’s stage will showcase performers like Corky the Magic Clown, Jolly Roger the Pirate, ventriloquist Steve Brogan and comedic juggler Steve Langley.
• Arts & Crafts – The festival is home to an Arts & Crafts Pavilion with more than 160 artisans. Festival-goers can mosey on to the Matthews Community Center, where they have traditionally found exhibits involving woodworking, basketweaving, quilting and even LEGOs. Ah … air conditioning.
• Giving back – More than 2,200 volunteers help make the event possible. Money made from sponsorships, booths and activities is split among participating charities. Last year, nearly 40 nonprofits received shares from a record $144,062 haul. The festival has generated more than $1.7 million for charity over the years.