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The 26th Open Grid Forum - OGF26
Chapel Hill, NC, USA
May 26-28, 2009


For more information on getting around the area, please visit the Friday Center website

Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill

Sports Illustrated has said that Chapel Hill is the best college town in America, and Franklin Street (named after Benjamin Franklin) is one of the reasons why. Day and night, it's a bustling thoroughfare of students, faculty members, residents, retirees, visitors and others who have celebrated its charm in five centuries. With 304 diverse businesses downtown, "Franklin Street" is the heart of town, where the famous have walked, the famous and not-so-famous have shopped for the necessities and luxuries of life, the many have celebrated great sports victories and holiday events, and the many more have been entertained simply by strolling its length to see and be seen.

A Southern Season gourmet emporium

What started out as a tiny coffee roastery in 1975 has grown into a 60,000-sq.ft. landmark gourmet food and kitchen accessories marketplace that New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne referred to as "wall to wall and floor to ceiling, a visual and gustatory delight". It's also one of four major specialty and organic grocers here serving a diverse population of growers and gourmets, and one of numerous specialty stores and boutiques that can be found in several clusters of shopping centers, and rows of shops and boutiques around the area, where you can find everything from the mundane to the marvelous.

Carr Mill Mall and Weaver Street Market

Carr Mill Mall was built in 1899 as a textile mill, then renovated as a shopping mall in 1977. It's the centerpiece of Carrboro, a former railroad depot and mill town, that also features Weaver Street Market, one of the largest cooperative organic food markets in the country (which also holds Thursday evening and Sunday morning concerts in the warm weather, as well as other community events). Carrboro is also the frequent scene of festivals of all sorts celebrating poetry, music, art, kite flying, major holidays and even the town itself, not to mention a community dinner where everyone gets together as one big happy family!

Historic Hillsborough

Hillsborough played a major role in the Revolutionary and Civil War periods in North Carolina and, with more than 100 significant historic buildings, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered a "museum without walls". Historical structures, sites and markers can be found in every corner of this charming village, every one of them an integral part of the area's long and colorful history, influenced primarily by the Native-Americans, British, Colonial patriots, Southerners, African-Americans and other cultures. It has also developed into a writers' and artists' colony, with many well known, award-winning residents living among its farmed and forested hills.

Dean E. Smith Center, home of the Tar Heels

The Tar Heel basketball team has produced some famous players and garnered numerous championships and awards over the years under the roofs of Carmichael Auditorium and the Dean E. Smith Center, completed in 1986. The facility is only one of 14 structures and facilities that make up the Tar Heel athletics program, comprised of 33 separate sports. Out of this program have come such sports legends as Charlie "Choo-Choo" Justice, Estelle Page, Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, Woody Durham, Vic Huggins and others. Which might explain why Carolina logo sportswear, merchandise and memorabilia is the largest-selling brand among American colleges and universities.

PlayMakers Repertory Company and Memorial Hall

Since 1975, Play Makers has been North Carolina's premier not-for-profit professional theatre company, founded in 1919, performing five different plays from October to May in its intimate Paul Green Theatre on campus. In addition, the new Memorial Hall, built in 1885, rebuilt in 1931 and renovated in 2005 at a cost of $18-million, has hosted world-renowned performers, events and elegant ceremonies over the years. Other popular performance venues include the Cat's Cradle and The Arts Center in Carrboro, plus many small nightclubs. In fact, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, James Taylor, Southern Culture on the Skids and Ben Folds Five are among the notable musical acts whose careers began in Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill has also been a center for the modern revival of old-time music, with such bands as the Hollow Rock String band, the Fuzzy Mountain String band and the acclaimed Red Clay Ramblers.

North Carolina Botanical Garden

This is the largest botanical garden in the southeast, established in 1966, consisting of nearly 700 acres of preserved land with nature trails, carnivorous plant collections, aquatics and herb gardens, and revolving exhibits of artwork with a horticultural theme. The garden also administers the historic Coker Arboretum, established in 1903, and the recently upgraded 93-acre Battle Park, established in the late 1800s by University President Kemp Plummer Battle, known as "the Southern Thoreau". Other gardens may be found in Hillsborough (notably Chatwood and Montrose Gardens) and nature preserves around the county, like the Eno River State Park, Johnston Mill Nature Reserve, Little River Natural Area and Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area.

Ackland Art Museum

The museum has a collection of more than 15,000 objects that broadly covers the history of European painting and sculpture, including masters such as Rubens, Delacroix, Degas and Pissarro, and is strong in Asian art and works on paper, with some North Carolina pottery and folk art. Next door is the UNC Department of Art with its Hanes Art Gallery of revolving exhibits and, around town, you can find more than three dozen commercial art galleries representing artists from all over the world. Many are open late in Chapel Hill and Carrboro during the 2nd Friday Art Walks, and for two weekends in November, you can personally meet artists at local exhibits and in their own studios. In fact, art of all kinds may be found virtually anywhere around town; all you need to do is keep your eyes open for it.

Nearly 300 restaurants, bars and nightclubs

Ah, but the food... With about 120,000 residents, Orange County has one of the largest concentrations of diverse, multi-ethnic restaurants, eating places, bars, breweries, lounges, nightclubs, pubs and sports bars in the country: about one for every 435 people! Food choices range from Asian to Yogurt, including the state's only AAA Four-Diamond Italian restaurant, plus Ethiopian, French, Moroccan, Persian, Russian and Turkish restaurants-and for budgets from college student to Forbes 400. Also, Chapel Hill has two microbreweries (so far), turning out high-quality, award-winning beers and ales, and a number of cozy clubs pubs that will make you feel as if you were back in Merry Old England (or Ireland, Scotland or Wales). Prosit!

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