Massive traffic jams are a regular weekend headache every October and November for drivers on N.C. 73 as the Carolina Renaissance Festival off Poplar Tent Road draws big crowds. Now festival promoters are hoping to solve the problem with a second entrance on N.C. 73, on land they’ve acquired next to the festival site.
Right now, the festival’s 238-acre site only can be reached via a dirt road off Poplar Tent Road.
Jeffrey Siegel said Sunday that he has purchased a 33-acre farm near the festival site that also could give festival-goers access from N.C. 73. He plans to seek approval from the state Department of Transportation and town of Huntersville for the new plan, which also would include people directing traffic on event days.
There’s one weekend left in this year’s Renaissance Festival run, and any changes wouldn’t take effect until October 2013, Mr. Siegel said.
Mr. Siegel’s Fairhaven LLC owns the main festival site. He said he bought the adjacent 33-acre farm from Robin and Jim Konieczny. He said in an email he plans “no new or different use” for the property and intends to maintain it as a farm. The only change would be use it as a “traffic reliever” on event days, he said.
The popular festival draws thousands of vistors and cars during its annual run, and often backs up traffic on N.C. on weekend days. That has local residents searching for other routes, and occasionally has led organizers of other events to change their plans.
“A second entry with its additional use as an end of event day exit can go a long way to improve our participation with the transportation system during the festival’s season,” Mr. Siegel said in a press release. “We are always looking for ways to improve the event experience for our patrons and for the community that has grown around us over the past two decades.”
Here’s the text of the festival announcement Sunday:
New Renaissance Festival Traffic Planning Announced
Huntersville, NC – The producer of the Carolina Renaissance Festival has purchased a 33 acre farm adjacent to the Renaissance Festival site with hope that its access to Highway 73, managed with event day traffic control personnel, can be found acceptable to NCDOT and the Town of Huntersville for seasonal use as an additional entry and exit to provide traffic relief on festival event days in October and November annually.
“This is an opportunity to have a second entry and exit to more rapidly move cars traveling to the Renaissance Festival off the road system and to also improve exiting. Once this new access is professionally planned and submitted for NCDOT and Huntersville review, and if found to be acceptable, we would look to introduce this significant improvement for our 20th anniversary season in October of 2013.” according to festival producer Jeffrey Siegel.
The festival site is currently served by a single three lane access road entering on Poplar Tent Road.
Siegel participated with informational discussions with NCDOT and Huntersville transportation and planning staff with regard to this new opportunity. The festival has hired traffic management professionals Design Resource Group to prepare an updated traffic control program for submittal to the governing bodies for review.
In partnership with festival sponsor Harris Teeter, the festival will continue to offer free event parking as another method of more rapidly bringing cars off the road system as quickly as possible with no stops necessary to pay a parking fee.
“A second entry with its additional use as an end of event day exit can go a long way to improve our participation with the transportation system during the festival’s season. We are always looking for ways to improve the event experience for our patrons and for the community that has grown around us over the past two decades.” said Siegel.
The Carolina Renaissance Festival is a seasonal special event with an arts and crafts fair, music and comedy shows, medieval jousting tournaments and feasting. The event has been a well received and successful program since its inception in 1994.
The Renaissance Festival completes its 19th season next Saturday and Sunday, November 17 and 18, open from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.
For event information, call 704-896-5544, or on the web at RenFestInfo.com.