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Welcoming spring on Hillsborough Street

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With construction set to begin on Raleigh's Hillsborough Street in May, many people will be avoiding the work zone for the next two years. Before it begins, a green celebration has been planned, right in time for spring.

On Saturday, March 14, the Hillsborough Street Renaissance Festival will shut the road to traffic between Gardner Street and Enterprise Street to make way for booths, music and food. The festival, which begins at noon, will feature cooking competitions with local food, a fashion show featuring recycled materials, and exhibits showcasing alternative fuels and cars with environmentally friendly technology. The Kid Zone will even feature solar-powered race cars, among other activities designed to keep little ones entertained.

The event was conceived as a way to help tie together three facets of the community surrounding N.C. State: businesses, families and students.

"The goal is to revitalize Hillsborough Street," said Amy Callahan, a spokeswoman for the festival. "We want to make it a place where people want to go to hang out again and enjoy Raleigh together. There's a dividing line between the campus and the community that runs along Hillsborough Street. We hope by revitalizing the street there will no longer be that line."

Food will provide one catalyst for unity. NCSU fraternities will face off against Hillsborough Street restaurants cooking their famous barbecue, with the green theme highlighted by a solar-powered pig cooker. More than 20 types of barbecue will be available for sampling, as well as a variety of pies provided by NCSU sororities. Festival-goers can enter a raffle to become a judge of the Iron Chef-style cooking competition between two local chefs.

Proceeds from the sale of raffle tickets, auction items, food, drinks and memorabilia will go to three charities: Engineers Without Borders, MorLove and Soles4Souls, which all provide recycled materials or renewable energy to those in need.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the festival. For more information, see hsren.org.

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