The Carolina Country Music Festival twanged on for a second night Friday, but many people had found ways to save a few bucks before heading to the event.
People took taxis instead of the event shuttle, ate outside of the venue and listened to musical acts from nearby hotel balconies, all to save money.
The event was “cash-free,” meaning participants had to load a wristband with money in order to purchase anything once inside the venue.
General admission tickets for all three days were up to $199. Two-day tickets were $159 for general admission and attendees could choose either a Friday/Saturday ticket or a Saturday/Sunday ticket.
But many people found ways around buying an actual ticket.
People peered from rooftops and hotel balconies to the action below, sometimes dancing to the musical acts or using binoculars to get a closer look.
Debbie and Kenneth Plumb, from St. Petersburg, Florida, paid $25 to park in the Pavilion parking deck across the street from the festival. The couple had bought tickets to the event, but due to health problems chose to enjoy the music from the comfort of their car.
The Plumbs had a bird’s-eye view of the venue, as well as a clear view of both giant screens next to the main stage. Every performer’s act could clearly be heard four stories up, which suited the couple just fine.
“We just didn’t want to be in there,” Debbie Plumb said. “They didn’t allow for water bottles or chairs, which is what us 60-year-olds need.”
The Plumbs cited a lack of organization before the event – including late wristbands and unanswered questions – as a partial reason for forgoing their tickets.
The couple plans to attend the event again next year, but won’t be buying any tickets.
“You can see better up here than down in that crowd anyway,” Kenneth Plumb said.
Several people lined up along the fence beside the main stage, standing on tip-toes and peeking between the barricades. Lorri Provencher, who was vacationing from Pennsylvania, claimed a bench on the boardwalk behind the main stage.
Provencher said one of the performers waved to her from behind the stage; an experience she couldn’t have had in the audience.
“I actually think sitting here is better,” she said. “If I had been in the audience he wouldn’t have even seen me.”
The personal connection – free of charge – is why Provencher will return to the boardwalk Saturday night for Eric Church’s performance.
“That way, maybe we’ll get another personal moment and then we can just walk back to our hotel,” she said.
Festival organizers offered parking at an offsite location for $50 per person, but many people found ways around the costly fee. Dozens of people took taxis to side streets next to the festival and walked to the main gate.
Alex Timberlake, who came down from Charlotte to attend the festival, parked her car at her hotel and walked to the former Pavilion site.
“We had to find an alternative route,” she said. “We’re trying to do everything as cheap as possible.”
Timberlake and three friends had to pay $50 to park a second car for the weekend, but said it was better than paying $200 total to ride the festival’s shuttle.
The group loaded their wristbands with some money but planned on eating most meals outside of the event.
“We’re just trying to be cost effective,” said Ashley Smith, also from Charlotte.
The festival continues Saturday.
Contact CLAIRE BYUN at 626-0381 and follow her on Twitter @Claire_TSN.