Speed Street set to kick off in Uptown at noon Thursday

Vendors set up booths and carts for Speed Street on Tryon in Uptown Charlotte.
Vendors set up booths and carts for Speed Street on Tryon in Uptown Charlotte. JDHud@charlotteobserver.com

The 22nd annual Speed Street kicks off Thursday in uptown Charlotte.

The three-day festival, which opens at noon each day and closes at 11 p.m., offers live musical performances, family-friendly activities and NASCAR driver appearances. Speed Street’s title sponsors are Circle K and Kangaroo, and it’s presented by Coca-Cola.

The event covers an area that includes: Tryon Street, between Trade and Stonewall streets; Levine Avenue of the Arts, between Church and Tryon streets; and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, between Church and College streets.

Many uptown streets were closed as of early Wednesday and won’t open until 8 a.m. Sunday.

“(Closing the streets) marks the beginning of three fun-filled days of family activities, driver autographs, Q&A sessions and the best musical lineup we’ve brought to Charlotte in more than a decade,” said Jacqueline Gafrarar, executive director of the 600 Festival Association, the nonprofit that produces the race festival.

The music lineup includes Chris Young, Montgomery Gentry, The Band Perry and Kellie Pickler.

Young will perform with Montgomery Gentry on Friday night, and The Band Perry will perform with Pickler on Saturday night. Tickets to these concerts cost $15. All other activities are free to the public.

Fans will have a chance to see NASCAR drivers, including Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. and Joey Logano. There also will be NASCAR show cars and simulators.

Vendors will hand out free samples throughout the festival, including Trolli candy, Gold Peak Tea, Mello Yello and five new Heinz BBQ sauces.

Kids can play in bounce house inflatables set up at the NASCAR Hall of Fame plaza and at the Kids’ Zone on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Approximately 250,000 people are expected to attend Speed Street, according to festival officials.

At the urging of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney, Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee has declared the festival an extraordinary event.

That means the event attracts a large number of people to a specific area of the city and requires additional public safety measures.

According to CharMeck.org, items prohibited from extraordinary events include bars and chains, aerosol containers, spray guns, paint guns, sharp blades, shooting devices, crowbars, pepper spray, police scanners, fireworks, smoke bombs and non-service animals.

For more details, visit http://600festival.com/speed-street.

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