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Festival for the Eno
Durham, N.C.

[Festival Website]
[Current festival information]

Since it's the Fourth of July weekend, you can bet it's either raining or blazing hot at the Festival for the Eno. But, if you'll make the effort to venture out, the Eno festival will surely entertain you.

The Festival for the Eno, held at West Point on the Eno, a Durham City park that should not be confused with Eno River State Park, is a benefit for the Eno River Association, which buys and preserves land along the river. As such, environmental sustainability is a big part of the festival's ethic, from its "trash-free" program of collecting and sorting refuse, to its foot-operated handwashing stands that recycle water, and the sustainable home and gardening expo area.

The Festival for the Eno, which dates to 1979, has scaled back in recent years; what was once a four-day affair is now held on two days: the Fourth of July and its nearest Saturday.

About 60 bands or solo artists play an eclectic range of mostly acoustic music on four stages, from gospel to roots rock.

Early on, folks look for shade under several clumps of trees at the Meadow Stage, the main stage.

But as space fills (and more popular bands play), the audience is less shy about enjoying music in the summer sun.

Still, those who know what's what find a spot under a tree early and relax ...

The festival's stages host a nice range of acts. Upper-tier acts play the Meadow Stage on a sloping field at the center of the festival grounds, and the shaded Grove Stage is the second-largest performance area. The River Stage is smaller, and the Chimney Corner Stage, named for ruins of a chimney that stand nearby and tucked away among the trees on the park's northern edge, is downright tiny.

Stages are spaced appropriately apart from one another, and it's easy to get around the grounds, though the land does slope toward the river.

The Grove Stage, below, is the surest bet for a shaded seat.

True to its name, the River Stage is near the banks of the Eno and, seen immediately below, a creek that feeds the river.

The River Stage's location is shady but prone to flooding. In the second photo below, a worker was trying to get some drainage going on a puddle in front of the stage.

The Chimney Stage:

Beyond the music, the nearly 100 arts and craft vendors, food (including ice cream), and the wide variety of nonprofit groups' displays, games, demonstrations, storytelling and other spectator and participatory activities are as important to the weekend as the music.

At the Big Top at the top of the meadow, you can buy artist CDs and festival souvenirs, and get information about the Eno River Association and other conservation groups.

Who doesn't love a festival T-shirt? The Eno fest has plenty of them with each year's unique wildlife designs from years gone by.

Art vendors are spread throughout the grounds, but most food vendors are in a central food court.

This row of vendors near the Grove Stage was less busy than usual late in the day.

There's also a working grist mill open for tours, canoe and kayak rentals and demonstrations, and shallows that are popular for wading on the river.

A little touch of beauty on the banks of the Eno.

The festival is the biggest Fourth of July event in the area and is totally family-friendly. About 20,000 people representing a cross-section of the Triangle attend each year. As we say on our July festivals page, it's best to park at Durham County Stadium and take a shuttle bus to the festival. They are large, comfortable, air-conditioned tour buses - as opposed to school activity buses - and they run constantly each day.

The 2009 Eno festival presented two takes on pipes and drums:
N.C. State University Pipes & Drums and Albannach - "Outlawed Tunes on Outlawed Pipes."


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