South Charlotte

Town's big bash will start Friday

Close out summer in style this Labor Day weekend with a trip to Matthews Alive!

From Friday until next Monday evenings, the Town of Matthews will quadruple in size as more than 100,000 turn out for arts and crafts, bands, dancing, rides, games, food and much, much more.

Organizers say the annual four day festival, the largest Labor Day festival and parade in the Southeast, is unlike any other.

“We're unique in that we're strictly a family oriented festival with something for everyone. It's not just arts and crafts, it's not just food and rides. We have four stages with completely different entertainment on each stage all four days,” said Jim Sander, logistics chair of the event.

The festival is run by volunteers from area nonprofits who share proceeds of the four-day weekend.

Matthews Mayor Lee Myers says he measures the success of the event by the number of strollers he sees each year – a sure indicator of strong family appeal.

He says he hopes everyone will come out, at least once, to visit a festival he says grows bigger and better each year.

Said Myers, “This is a true family event. Strollers are encouraged! All aspects of our town come together – businesses, residents, volunteers (more than 2,000) and town government.”

Matthews Alive! 2008, presented by Presbyterian Hospital Matthews, caters to plenty of interests.

One hundred fifty arts and crafts vendors offer handcrafted items ranging from PVC pipe lawn and garden sculptures to hand carved Georgia marble Christmas ornaments.

The Charlotte Gem and Mineral Club will sell whole geodes and throw in free slicing with a purchase.

A large midway is lined with children's games and rides.

Discount ticket opportunities include an all-you-can-ride armband night on Friday and two-for-one buddy rides on Sunday evening.

Four stages are filled with a variety of talent all weekend. Dueling Pianos followed by Chairman of the Board kicks off the entertainment at 7 Friday evening in Stumptown Park.

The rest of the weekend is crammed with performances by storytellers, dancers, musicians, kazoos, actors, a brass quintet and more.

The Children's Area, located in front of Matthews Elementary School and Matthews Community Center, features a number of free activities and performances for kids.

Inside the Matthews Community Center, festival-goers will find a Quilt Show and Exhibit, an Art Show featuring work from the Matthews Artist Guild, a handmade basket display from Dreamweavers of Matthews and a wide variety of performers on the Community Center stage.

Food at Matthews Alive! ranges from traditional fare of hot dogs, hamburgers, roasted ears of corn and cotton candy to new entries featuring homemade old fashioned soda served in tin cans and homemade desserts from Grandma's Goodies.

Saturday's parade, which begins at 10 a.m., boasts more than 125 entries and includes six marching bands, 20 beauty queens, a NASCAR car and several mascots including Rufus, Homer and Sidney the Kidney from the Kidney Foundation.

Says Matthews Alive! executive director Jayson Johnston, “Four days is a long time, but there's so much going on you need a few days to enjoy it all.”