Rock the Block, the city’s annual end-of-summer downtown street festival coming Sept. 21 -22, is evolving this year into Rock the Block Remix. The “remix” retains Rock the Block’s original emphasis on music, but dispenses with the extensive street closures that have disrupted what has become a very lively – and busy – downtown, said Ed McNeal, who is coordinating Rock the Block Remix for the city of Winston-Salem.
As downtown’s popularity has grown over the last 10 years it’s become more difficult to host an event the size of Rock the Block and not disrupt businesses, hotels, and residents,” McNeal said. “A committee representing these three constituencies, as well as the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership and the city, envisioned a ‘remix’ of the event that remains entertaining for all but doesn’t snarl traffic and landlock residents, businesses and visitors.”
This year, food vendors – and a limited number of non-food vendors – will be clustered around the music stages, leaving Fourth, Fifth, Cherry and Marshall streets open to traffic.
New hours – from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. – will ensure that downtown residents can be assured a better night’s sleep, and present opportunities for downtown businesses to offer post-festival entertainment.
New this year is the College Quad at Civic Plaza, with entertainment that is being booked by the Arts Council in conjunction with Winston-Salem State University, Wake Forest University, Salem College and the UNC School of the Arts.
The Ziggy’s Rock, Country and Blues stage, headlined by Stratocruiser, will be set up on Sixth Street between Cherry and Trade Streets.
The International Stage will be set up at Corpening Plaza, headlined by the popular Reggae band Lion Tracks.
Rock This!, the teen battle of the rock bands sponsored by Forsyth Technical Community College, will be held at Winston Square Park.
Rock the Block Remix will again feature a “pre-party” from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday night, Sept. 21, in conjunction with the Moonlight Madness 5k and Fun Run to raise money for the United Way. Entertainment will be provided by Fuhnetik Union - the Triad's pre-eminent party band.
The new format reflects the reality that Rock the Block has essentially accomplished its original purpose, McNeal said. “Rock the Block was started in 2002 to support those pioneer businesses coming downtown by exposing them to people who otherwise would never visit downtown. Now, you can come downtown any night of the week and it’s crowded with people.”
Rock the Block Remix is being sponsored by Windsor Jewelers, Mellow Mushroom, Yes Weekly, Food Lion, the Millennium Fund, HanesBrands Inc., Wells Fargo, Forsyth Medical Center, Ziggy’s, Reynolds American, Primo Water, Sheetz, the U.S. National Whitewater Center, Forsyth Technical Community College, Omega Sports and the city of Winston-Salem.
“Rock the Block was first and foremost about the music,” McNeal said. “With Rock the Block Remix, we’re keeping the music front and center, but with a new timetable and footprint that serves everybody’s needs.”
Learn more at RocktheBlockWS.com.