World of Bluegrass festival to leave Nashville for Raleigh

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 7:02pm
Updated: 10:55 a.m.

The International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass festival and conference is moving from the Nashville Convention Center to Raleigh, N.C., in 2013.

NBC-17 reported Tuesday afternoon that Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was expected to make the announcement Wednesday.

The World of Bluegrass includes a business conference, the IBMA Awards show and Fan Fest, which included more than 60 acts last year. In 2011, the Fan Fest had 3,900 unique visitors each day for three days and the business conference attracted 1,610 over four days.

Nashville Convention and Visitor's Bureau spokeswoman Andrea Arnold said the NCVB, as well as the hospitality industry, gave incentives totaling roughly $330,000 to IBMA to host past festivals. The NCVB also worked with the IBMA to develop plans to help make World of Bluegrass work in Nashville, but those plans weren't implemented. 

“We've worked with them over 10 years to help grow and develop their event,” Arnold said. “It's very unfortunate that they haven't been able to be as successful in Nashville as they've needed to be.”

A newsletter to IBMA members in November 2011 said that the organization would assemble a task force to look at other prospective sites for the festival. According to, which also reported on the move Tuesday and first reported rumors of the move, festival organizers were concerned about the rising cost factors in downtown Nashville.

One advantage Raleigh has over Nashville is the city’s downtown convention center, which opened in 2008, is located next to an outdoor amphitheater with a capacity of 5,500.

This year's festival is still scheduled in Nashville for Sept. 24-30.


12 Comments on this post:

By: capt4chris on 5/15/12 at 9:27

That's too bad. I don't see that moving the festival around this much will really help it grow.

By: Ask01 on 5/16/12 at 3:47

The upside is we now have some indication as to Mayor Dean's next project.

I can foresee an open air amphitheater contructed on whatever privately owned property remains in downtown which the city can snatch and grab, oops, I mean condemn and take over for the private, I mean public good.

I wonder if this is the tip of the iceberg, Sure, MCC is booked right now, but can they maintain? How many more groups will opt for other cities, with perhaps smaller venues, but more interesting local attractions?

I'm certain convention goers will enjoy mingling with the Mission residents on their morning walk and marvel at the homeless pan handling outside the facility.

By: Loner on 5/16/12 at 3:56

Music City says "good riddance" to the Bluegrass festival...this is now "Jock-strap City", music is passe....Nashville wants to be known as an NFL and NHL powerhouse city, not for pickin' and grinnin"....this is part of the Mayor and the Governor's master plan for Metro...Music is OUT and Pro-sports are's the new paradigm.

By: ralane on 5/16/12 at 6:11

ralane The beginning of the pull out by the smaller conventions that help keep the revenues up over the long run by filling in the gaps between the larger conventions and shows. The smaller shows and conventions will have to leave because they cannot afford the rent and fees at the new arena and as well the hotel and parking price gouging each time there is a special event in town. Poor management on the convention centers part. This new convention center will become a burden on taxpayers.

By: govskeptic on 5/16/12 at 6:27

This is a very good festival to lose. It's comes at a perfect time of the
year on Nashville's calendar of events, and does get a great deal of
it's visitors from afar versus just neighbors! Will it take break-even or
even loses for the Convention Bureau to hang onto many medium
or smaller size groups?

By: Moonglow1 on 5/16/12 at 7:33

Moonglow1: The Bluegrass festival is a real loss to The Nashville Brand. The Chamber and others should make every effort to retain music-oriented festivals. It would be interesting to hear from those in the music industry on this topic. I do believe we are on track as far as the convention center. We need the venue to compete with other cities. We cannot even compete successfully with Raleigh.
And of course there is that other issue which adversely impacts the Nashville brand: The Tea Nut Crazies that have passed these crazy social laws that are the laughing stock of the nation.
Instead of disparaging Mayor Dean, we should be more worried about Haslam & Co!!

By: Left-of-Local on 5/16/12 at 8:18

Instead of blaming the city and the mayor, and making assumptions that have nothing to do with facts... consider this:

- The cost of parking with these greedy bastard parking companies is TOO DAMN HIGH.

- The accessibility of the NCC is HORRIBLE for very much load-in, and with *M*CC not quite finished yet, these people may not be convinced it will be better till they see it.

- Catering inside the center is ATROCIOUS in cost. Ovations, the contractor, is LOADED and keeps getting MORE loaded, and gouges everyone, even those just grabbing a snack. The city should DUMP them.

- Our transit options SUCK, and to get from BNA to downtown is a SAD and PATHETIC equation of yet more greedy and inefficient private groups. Yet, whenever someone tries to improve that by, say, increasing property taxes to better fund transit, you people cry and moan.

By: JeffF on 5/16/12 at 9:00

Spending money on a transit system to get tourists from the airport to downtown would be the apex of stupidity. We have a transit system that does not serve the needs of actual citizens and you want to spend money on a few non-citizens? Connecting airport to the transit system should come way down the list, below connecting Nashville to itself and connecting Nashvillian's to their jobs and schools.

The only thing more insane than placing a high priority for downtown to airport transportation would be spending millions of dollars on a train for the same project.

By: Moonglow1 on 5/16/12 at 9:48

Moonglow1: Left of Local-you are correct. We need mass transit. The only way Nashville will grow is to remove the yahoo's and cronies from the dialogue. Let's face it: so much money is siphoned off by fraud and greed in this city. We need honest, intelligent, and thoughtful public servants who have the expertise to collaborate with The Chamber to make Nashville a world class destination. Our symphony was invited to Carnegie Hall.
Unfortunately we are populated by splinter groups of: Tea Nuts, Greedy Industrialists, and Social Bereft Individuals, People without Vision whose "vision" is used to view Fox News.

By: joe41 on 5/17/12 at 7:00

I can't see any advantage to moving this to Raleigh. There is woeful transportation from RDU to downtown Raleigh and the costs are not less. The only thing must be that they gave a higher subsidy to the organization. No where did anybody explain what the cost factors were that the headline proclaimed.


By: Left-of-Local on 5/17/12 at 8:43

Yeah... when I was just in Minneapolis, I totally HATED the light rail that got me around, and {{{GASP}}} look at all those locals WITHOUT suitcases who had to put up with my touristy ass... Must be a total waste of money up there, too. >.>

By: JeffF on 5/17/12 at 8:53

joe you nailed it. The entire industry is overbuilt by cities all trying to protect their "brand" and each one says they are more special then the next. The remaining groups still holding shows now get to pick and choose which new, mega facility gets to hold their conference/congress/show for free. All the cities with new centers have to show aren't the black holes critics of the industry say they are by going beyond that. I expect that Raleigh promised a bigger rebate to the organizer for the hotels booked through the conference. Also no doubt they received some amount of free rooms and food paid for by the CVB or convention center (not paying hotel taxes) and a lot of buses provided for free to attendees.

Raleigh has been hemoraging money on their center since the day it opened. Their fanboys have been having to answer or deflect a lot of questions about the logic of building in an oversaturated market. Same goes with Atlanta and St Louis and Baltimore and Houston. On a smaller scale Knoxville had admitted their boat was swamped by their new center and they are nothing more than a building for motorcycle rallies and concurrent wedding receptions. St Louis swiped a large meeting from Memphis with rebates and freebies. Nashville will be competing in this same bathtub far after the newness wears off its black hole and well before the bonds are paid off and officials claim we built too small and must expand (step 4 on the convention center playbook right before go back to step 1).