Eighteen years ago, I began a new chapter of my life by joining JHE Production, an event production company. At that time JHE had produced the event known as Speed Street for just two years. As you can imagine, my first year was a wild ride. I had no clue that all these years later JHE would still produce the event and I would be the executive director of the 600 Festival Association, a nonprofit that has been commemorating the May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway with family-oriented events for more than 31 years.
1 - To kick off our festivities, Movies on the Campus is a great opportunity to bring your lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy Disney’s “Cars 2” under the stars. The free evening is slated for Friday, May 6 at 8 p.m. in downtown Kannapolis, North Carolina. It’s a perfect event for kids of all ages to enjoy their favorite characters race on the big screen.
2 - The next must-experience event is Haulers on Union parade and fan fest on Thursday, May 19 starting at 5 p.m. More than 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series haulers will parade down Union Street in Concord, North Carolina, en route to Charlotte Motor Speedway. Families can get into the racing spirit with a variety of activities including race cars on display, celebrity autographs, corn hole, horseshoes, life-size Connect 4 and more. A free concert will kick off at 6:30 p.m. featuring country music artists Acoustic South followed by the sounds of beach music, soul and R&B from The Tams.
3 - For race fans young and old, the ENEOS Little 600 is a little slice of racing paradise. The third annual event is held at GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina, and features a full field of NASCAR drivers in the 15-lap main event as well as a NASCAR spotters and future stars race. Among the NASCAR drivers expected to participate are Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney, Trevor Bayne and many more. The ENEOS Little 600 gate opens at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24!
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4- On Saturday, May 28, the 600 Festival offers the fast-footed a chance to run through Speed Street in Uptown Charlotte. The PNC Speed Street 5K starts at 8 a.m. and also has a 600-yard fun run that starts inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame at 8:45 a.m.
5 - Last and certainly not least is the popular Circle K and Kangaroo Speed Street presented by Coca-Cola. The 22nd annual event offers live entertainment, access to racing’s brightest stars and interactive displays appropriate for all ages. Again this year, we will have a kids’ zone along with a variety of family-programming on the Mello Yello stage. For those with a later curfew, don’t miss the evening’s headliners Sol Fusion and the Voltage Brothers on Thursday; Montgomery Gentry and Chris Young on Friday; and Kellie Pickler and The Band Perry on Saturday. Circle K and Kangaroo Speed Street presented by Coca-Cola takes place in Uptown Charlotte May 26-28 from noon to 11 p.m. each day.
After working on this event for 18 years, one might think I am exhausted by it, but the truth couldn’t be any different. I love the enthusiasm our partners bring each year and seeing our guests have an unforgettable experience.
On behalf of the 600 Festival Association, as a mom and as a lover of great events, I invite you to experience these five family-friendly events in May. For more information, visit www.600festival.com.
Jacqueline Gafrarar is mom of eight-year-old Caleb and the executive director of the 600 Festival Association, the nonprofit that organizes the five family-oriented events leading up to the Coca-Cola 600.