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Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance


The Basics:

The Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance is the younger sibling of the world-renowned Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival. The festival happens twice a year in Silk Hope, North Carolina, outside of Chapel Hill, and presents a huge variety of world, ethnic, folk, swing, blues and rock music. The festival is a benefit for various charities supporting Arts, Education and the fight against AIDS.

The Music:

Considering that Shakori is a relatively small festival, they have a huge lineup of music. They consistently bring in one or two major headliners, but they show no fear in presenting a whole lot of the best music you didn't know existed. From folk to rock to Cajun and Zydeco to swing, there's literally something for everyone. The festival is hosted by World roots-rockers Donna the Buffalo.

Basic Needs:

You're allowed to bring your own food and drink, of course, but food vendors are also plentiful, offering a variety of ethnic and American cuisines, as well as many vegetarian options. Bathroom facilities are primitive, mostly of the portable variety, and showers are cold-water only. Bring your own camp shower (or get a hotel room!) if you're the high-maintenance type. Free well water is available for drinking.

All-Night Zydeco Dancing:

The Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival used to be known for exciting all-night Zydeco dance parties, but unfortunately, noise complaints from neighbors shut down this tradition. Quiet old-time campfire jams will likely replace this tradition.

No Public Display of Alcohol:

Local law states that no public display of alcohol is allowed. That doesn't mean that you can't drink, you just can't carry around a bottle of whiskey or a can of beer. Bring a cup, or better yet, buy one of the groovy collectible 20 oz. to-go mugs that the festival sells for only five bucks. It's a family-friendly festival, so intoxication is not cool and you will be removed, but if you're discreet, you're welcome to have a couple drinks.

What To Bring:

Cups (see above), mud boots, waterproof tent, bedding, raincoat, layer-able clothing, snacks, lawn chairs, alcohol if you want it (none is sold onsite), bug spray containing DEET (North Carolina in the spring is known for ticks), flashlights (the kind that strap around your head are great for PortaJohns), anything else you'd bring for primitive camping, a camera with plenty of film, and bring your instrument if you play one! Jam sessions are plentiful.

What NOT To Bring:

Pets, radios/boomboxes, generators, anything that you don't want to see covered in sticky North Carolina red clay mud. Stick to the general rules of making the most out of a music festival, and you'll do fine.

Kids at Shakori:

Shakori is a really excellent festival for the whole family, providing a lot of entertainment for the younger and teen sets. The Kid Zone offers arts and crafts, storytellers, children's musicians, face-painting and more. Older kids will enjoy the huge simulated rock-climbing wall, and may enjoy taking part in the musical workshops. A quiet camping zone is available for families, and the overall community is an extremely safe one.


As far as festivals (or vacations in general) go, Shakori is a super-cheap one. Tickets are available ahead of time for $65 and at the gate for $75. Kids 13-15 are $35. Kids 12 and under are free. Tent camping is free, and there's a shuttle to help you get your stuff to and from your car. Vehicle camping is $50 per vehicle.


Like many community-run festivals, Shakori couldn't run without the help of tons of volunteers. If you can't quite swing the cost of the festival, you can get in for free if you work 12 hours. Your shifts can be done in 3-, 4-, or 6-hour sets, so you can get them over with pretty quickly. Volunteering is very fun and can be a great way to meet new people and really help make the festival happen. You can volunteer for a number of different "crews", and the volunteer coordinators will help you find a crew that really suits your skill set.

Visit the Shakori Hills Homepage for more information.

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