Home Blog

Ciel Gallery Presents Fall National Juried ‘Exhibition I Spy’

Ciel Gallery is pleased to present its Fall National Juried Exhibition I Spy, showcasing works by artists across the U.S. who give us a raw, up-close and personal glimpse into how they really see and interpret the world. The exhibition opens October 6th and continues through October 28th, 2017. A special reception will be held on Friday, October 6, 6-9 pm. Award winners will be judged by Lee Baumgarten, Executive Director at The Civic & Cultural Arts Center in Pineville and announced at the reception.

Our planet is a monument to wonder, to see, to explore, to present everyday epiphanies as a moment of refuge and delight for an overloaded and often blinded world. The works presented will give viewers insightful peeks into the inner depths of artists minds.

A blind panel reviewed 268 entries from 146 artists representing 15 states and 44 pieces were selected to exhibit. Themes of the natural world, human moments, oddities and curiosities are interpreted in a variety of scale and media such as: Oil, Acrylic, Digital, Stoneware, Jewelry, Beadwork, Mosaic, Photography, Lithography, Sculpture, Fiber and Gaming Screens.

Local artist professional, Lee Baumgarten will be judging for awards. He is a proponent/advocate for creativity and innovation, for creating a better paradigm in public education and advocating “Art” as a catalyst for change. He has received grants, awards and honors and has regularly produced artworks, gallery exhibits, student workshops and cultural projects in the Charlotte area since 1998, expanding across the US and into Europe since 2012.

Ciel Gallery is a well-known fine art & fine craft collective art gallery. Its artists are very much a part of Charlotte’s pulsating art scene. The gallery hosts twelve exhibitions a year and offers a varied slate of art instruction for all levels. It is located at 128 E. Park Avenue, in South End, Charlotte’s urban, trendy neighborhood within walking distance to the train,

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11 am – 6 pm; 1st Fridays 11 am – 9 pm. All works will be available for purchase online as well. For more information visit www.cielcharlotte.com.

Opening Reception: Friday, October 6, 6-9 pm. Awards will be announced during the art reception.
Admission is free and families are welcome!

Artists selected: Andrea Zinn, Cathy Wilkin, Charles Roche, Cornelia Wende, Daniel File, Daniel Quinn, David McCrae, Donna Downey, Emily Andress, Hannah Lindo, Heather McLeod, Helen Beacham, Jade Lowder, Jason Stein, Joelle Jacobs, Jonathan Grauel, Katie Ries, Kerry Griffin, Laura McRae-Hitchcock, Lauren Bradshaw, Lisa Jasinski, Maggie Jones, Martha Worthy, Mary Hinchey,Max McLeod, Merrill Steiger, Michael Henry, Michele Morrice, Molly Morningglory, Nancy Smeltzer, Penny Beesley, Rhett Thompson, Richard Greene, Robin Howard, Sara Simpson, Seth Rouser, Simone Esquibel, Staci Swider, Steve Knight, Teresa Sheilds, Teresa Shields, Terie Christmas, Tina Alberni, Veronique Moses.


CATS Unveils New Branding Designs In ‘Envision My Ride’ Initiative

CATS unveiled its new branding design of its buses and vanpools today.  The new look creates a branding synergy with the LYNX light rail service and the design of the future CityLYNX streetcar service that is scheduled to open in 2020.  The rebranding is one of the phases of the Envision My Ride initiative started last year where CATS is focused on redesigning the bus system to:

  • Create more direct and frequent routes
  • Better route connections
  • Lessen travel time
  • Improve equipment and amenities

“The Envision My Ride initiative is an all-inclusive review of the bus system and these new branded vehicles with the latest technology and amenities will enhance the riding experience of our customers,” said John Lewis, CEO of CATS.

The new branding is initially installed on 40 new buses and vanpool that will start serving customers next week.  Over the next 5 plus years the entire fleet will be replaced and upgraded along with the new brand design. “We are committed to continually enhancing the reliability and comfort of the ride for our customers while expanding our hybrid fleet to do our part for the environment,” Lewis said. With the addition of these vehicles today, over 15 percent of CATS’ bus fleet will use hybrid technology, continuing to protect the environment and reduce fuel costs.

For more information on Envision My Ride and CATS services, visit ridetransit.org.

City of Charlotte Prepares for Hurricane Irma – Details for Each Department

The City of Charlotte is preparing for potential impacts to the Charlotte area and city services as a result of Hurricane Irma.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management is monitoring Irma, per regular updates received from North Carolina Emergency Management and the Greenville-Spartanburg office of the National Weather Service. Emergency Management is making internal preparations consistent with planning for any weather event or impending hazard.

Just as the city is preparing for Irma, Charlotte residents should, too. Members of the Charlotte community are encouraged to:

  • Make a plan
  • Build a ready kit (Stock up on items such as bottled water, nonperishable foods, batteries, flashlights, gas up your vehicle, etc.)
  • Stay informed

Shelters will open as needed. Locations will be determined as conditions progress. Stay tuned to city communications channels, including @CLTGov on Facebook and Twitter, as well as local media outlets for more information.

Residents can also stay engaged and informed by signing up for CharMeck Alerts at charmeckalerts.org or by connecting with Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter.

Charlotte Water

Charlotte Water has made a series of preparations this week to ensure continued delivery of drinking water and wastewater services through any storm event.

Charlotte Water has participated in frequent briefings and updates with local and state emergency management. As a member of N.C. Water WARN, Charlotte Water is prepared to exchange mutual aid requests and, if necessary, have a staff presence in an emergency operations center.

City water and sewer operations staff has reviewed hurricane procedures in Charlotte Water’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.

Fuel tanks have been topped off, and backup generators are being tested and placed on standby. Equipment and supplies, such as radios, laptops, chemical inventories, flashlights and chainsaws, have been serviced and maintained.

Facilities have been inspected and shored up to ensure reasonable protection against flooding and wind damage.

The operating divisions have reviewed staffing schedules and are prepared to adjust as needed. Some scheduled work may be delayed, but Charlotte Water will be prepared to respond to any emergencies. Customers will not see any visible change in their service.

Housing & Neighborhood Services

Code Enforcement’s DART (Damage Assessment Response Team) has been placed on standby in case assistance is needed. Staff has been instructed to check its gear and ensure vehicles are fueled up in the event DART is mobilized.

Solid Waste Services 

City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services asks customers to put their materials out on their collection day and leave materials there until collected, as long as outside conditions are safe.

Engineering & Property Management

All emergency response crews and contractors for downed trees and debris in the roads have been alerted and are on-call.

Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT)

CDOT crews are out clearing catch basins and investigating areas that are traditionally prone to flooding. Trucks are being fueled up and crews are on standby.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS)

CATS anticipates operating normal service on its bus routes, LYNX light rail service and CityLYNX streetcar service up until Monday evening. CATS will closely monitor weather conditions and make any necessary adjustments at that time.

Citizens should go to ridetransit.org for the most up-to-date information on specific routes. The public is encouraged to follow CATS on Twitter and Facebook for periodic updates. Citizens can also call 704-336-RIDE, but wait times for information may be long due to increased call volume.

Local Volunteers Needed to Assist with Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort

Help needed for relief efforts as peak of hurricane season approaches

Hundreds of experienced American Red Cross volunteers and employees are working around the clock to provide shelter and supplies to Gulf Coast residents affected by Harvey. More than 40 volunteers from the Western Northe Carolina region of the Red Cross are already on the ground. But with the peak of hurricane season approaching, more help is needed.

For people who want to volunteer and help families in Texas and Louisiana, the local Red Cross is hosting three Disaster Responder Bootcamps. Volunteers are also needed to help closer to home as hurricanes and tropical storms continue to develop in the Atlantic.

“As a Red Cross volunteer, you can help provide your friends and neighbors here and across the country with a safe place to stay during a disaster,” said Angela Broome Powley, regional CEO for the American Red Cross in Western North Carolina. “Take action now, to help care for families who have lost everything.”

During the Disaster Responder Bootcamp, volunteers will learn the essentials of responding to a disaster. Upon completion, participants will be qualified to open and operate a shelter during a disaster and be eligible, if desired, to deploy to assist with the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Saturday, September 2 (9AM – 4PM)
Monday, September 4 (2PM – 5PM)
Wednesday, September 6 (6PM – 9PM)

 All bootcamps will be held at:

American Red Cross
2425 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28203

“When families arrive at a shelter, often with just the clothes on their backs, they are scared and often not knowing if they will be able to return home,” said Jennifer Heisler, a volunteer with the Red Cross. “By volunteering in a shelter, you can provide more than just a safe, dry place to stay. You will be a source of comfort and hope during some of their darkest days.”

Volunteers interested in the training should contact the Charlotte Metro Volunteer Specialist Tamrah Jordan at tamrah.jordan@redcross.org. Due to the limited number of spots available for the Disaster Responder Bootcamp, pre-registration is required.

The safety of the people we serve and the volunteers who help them is of utmost importance. Procedures are in place to track who is volunteering for the Red Cross to help keep people safe. This includes running a background check on all volunteers who will work directly with the people who turn to us for help or have access to funds. Volunteers also sign an agreement to abide by our code of ethics and conduct. Volunteers interested in going to Texas or Louisiana need to be able to deploy for a minimum of two weeks, working 10-12 hour days, and remain flexible as conditions on the ground can change rapidly.

For people interested in volunteering with the Red Cross but unable to attend a bootcamp, visit redcross.org to learn more about the many volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.


We know Americans are generous and want to do everything they can to help after a disaster. Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good. It takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items, which diverts limited time and resources away from helping those most affected. Instead, the best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation.

The Red Cross has launched a massive response to this devastating storm and needs financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.

Charlotte Ranks #1 in U.S. As Destination For Moves By Millennials

Charlotte ranks No. 1 in the U.S. as a destination for moving by millennials, according to a recent study by mortgage lender SmartAsset.

Young adults today are less likely to move than they were in previous generations. Data from the Census Bureau shows that the mobility rate for young adults is at the lowest rate it has been at in 50 years. But what about the millennials who do move? They offer an economic boon to the cities and states who receive them. 

In order to find the places where millennials are moving, SmartAsset analyzed immigration and emigration data from the Census Bureau for 2015. They compared the number of persons between ages 20 and 34 moving into a city to the number moving out of a city. Check out the data and methodology section below to see where they got their data and how they put it together.


The Cities Where Millennials Are Moving 

1. Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, the biggest city in North Carolina, saw a larger influx of millennials than any other city in the study. Overall the data shows that about 71,240 millennials moved to Charlotte while 60,533 moved out. That’s a net gain of 10,707.

The largest net gain on millennials coming to Charlotte came from interstate movers. Around 18,000 millennials came into Charlotte from outside the state of North Carolina, while only about 10,000 left Charlotte for another state.

2. Seattle, Washington

Seattle is a popular destination for millennials. Overall the data shows that 86,641 millennials immigrated to the city, while 76,755 emigrated from the city. This left Seattle with a net gain of 9,886 millennials, the second-most in the country.

3. Oakland, California

Oakland is another popular landing spot for millennials on the move. Unlike some cities, the largest net increase in millennials coming to Oakland came from residents moving from another county in California.

In total 8,771 millennials came to Oakland from another county in California, while only 5,052 left Oakland for another county in California.

4. Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia is the fourth-most popular spot for mobile millennials. This city has a strong economy, bolstered by the large presence of the U.S. Department of Defense, which may be one reason millennials are flocking here.

Overall around 7,000 more millennials came to Norfolk than left, a figure which represents almost 3% of Norfolk’s total population.

5. Fargo, North Dakota

If we were measuring the number of millennials coming to a city as a percent of the overall population, Fargo would be even higher up the rankings. According to the data, Fargo gained just under 6,000 millennials from 2014-2015, just over 5% of the total population. One thing which may be attracting millennials to Fargo is the area’s low unemployment rate.

6. Spring Valley, Nevada

Spring Valley saw a net increase of 5,300 millennials. A large chunk of these millennials –  2,985 – came from out of state. At the same time only 785 millennials left Spring Valley and headed out of Nevada.

In terms of raw numbers, this city saw less movement when compared to others in the top 10 due to its smaller population. About 13,546 millennials immigrated to Spring Valley while 5,347 emigrated. Both those figures are the lowest in our top 10. One plus for millennials coming to Spring Valley is that Nevada has relatively low taxes.

7. San Francisco, California

San Francisco was one of the busiest cities analyzed. Overall about 120,000 millennials moved in or out of San Francisco, with about 4,800 more coming in than leaving.

Unlike Oakland, where the majority of incoming millennials were coming from other counties in California, the vast majority of the net increase in millennials in San Francisco came from out of state.

8. Fort Collins, Colorado

Fort Collins is the first of two Colorado cities to crack the top 10. This city has a booming economy with an unemployment rate around 2.9%, which has led to a large influx of residents. In fact, the housing supply grew 8.9% from 2014 to 2015 just to keep up with the demand for housing.

Overall more than 4,300 more millennials moved to Fort Collins than left.

9. Denver, Colorado

Denver is a very popular spot for millennials. The data shows about 4,200 more millennials immigrated to Denver than emigrated. That is the equivalent of about 0.63% of the total population.

Most of the net gain in millennials came from the steady stream of out-of-state millennials pouring into the city. According to our data, about 6,500 more millennials came to Denver from out of state than left Denver for another state.

10. St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul takes the final spot in the top 10. The smaller of the Twin Cities saw a net increase of about 4,100 millennials which just beat out Broomfield, Colorado for 10th place.

Most of the net gain in millennials came from the difference between the number of millennials coming to St. Paul from out of state compared to the number leaving St. Paul for another state.

Data and Methodology

In order to calculate which cities and states millennials are moving to, SmartAsset analyzed 2015 U.S. Census Bureau migration data on 218 cities and all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.

They compared the number of persons between the age of 20 and 34 who left each city and state to the number who moved in. They ranked the cities and states by highest net gain in persons ages 20 to 34. Data on migration patterns comes from the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau’s 1-Year American Community Survey.

See the full report here: https://smartasset.com/mortgage/where-millennials-are-moving

‘Academic Advantage’ Provides Support Network to Inform Aspiring Medical Professionals 

According to a study by U.S. News, North Carolina ranks extremely low at 45th place out of the 50 states in preparing high school students for “College Readiness.” Therefore, the local Charlotte community is coming together again for an even bigger Academic Advantage event, hosted by Greater Charlotte Oral & Facial Surgery.

Due to the great turnout from the last Academic Advantage event, the local practice has decided to make it larger this fall to keep up with student demand. The last Academic Advantage event was held on December 3, 2016 and the practice had to cut off RSVPs because the event hit capacity. With the help of participating colleges and medical experts, the free Academic Advantage event will help prepare these future college students to pursue their higher education goals and give them insight into healthcare career options.

Academic Advantage helps students learn about career paths in the medical field and provide the guidance they need to pursue their dream job. Because of North Carolina’s low standing in preparing students for higher education, Greater Charlotte Oral & Facial Surgery’s Academic Advantage event aims at providing students with a learning opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming doctors. Without helping students prepare for the college admissions process, there would be very few students that would pursue their passion of helping others. The Academic Advantage event will host five speakers and have booths with information and volunteer opportunities from several local colleges and non-profit organizations.

“Most students don’t know which path to take to become nurses or doctors; there aren’t many resources for young students curious about the medical field,” said Dr. Amir Marashi of Greater Charlotte Oral & Facial Surgery. “It’s important for current medical professionals to engage with students who are interested in the medical field, because those who attend this event could very likely be the future of the healthcare industry.”

Along with Dr. Marashi, Dr. Mohammad Bolouri, a neurologist at Alzheimer’s Memory Center, Dr. Kavi Sagunarthy, a general dentist at Gold Hill Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, and Dave Filz, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, will teach students and their parents not only about the healthcare industry, but about the specifics of their specialties.

Johnson & Wales University, UNC Charlotte, Kings College, Rowan Cabarrus Community College, Cabarrus College of Health Sciences, and Central Piedmont Community College will provide students with information about their education programs and answer questions. Second Harvest Food Bank and Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region will share their organization’s information and provide volunteer opportunities to students to help bolster their college applications.

The Academic Advantage event will be held at the South Charlotte Banquet Center from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, October 7. The event is free but attendees must RSVP in advance at https://greatercharlotteoralsurgery.com/academicadvantage/. An iPad Mini preloaded with college-prep apps will be raffled away to participants during the event.

About Greater Charlotte Oral & Facial Surgery: 

Greater Charlotte Oral & Facial Surgery is an AAAASF-accredited facility, assuring patients receive the highest level of care with the latest techniques and technology. Dr. Amir Marashi is a highly skilled oral surgeon with years of surgical experience. Dr. Marashi offers the full scope of oral surgery options such as dental implants, wisdom teeth extractions, fixed or removable dentures, and much more.

City of Charlotte Makes Progress on Affordable Housing Goals

Less than one year after Charlotte City Council reaffirmed in the Community Letter the council’s commitment to the expansion of affordable housing, the city announced Monday that it has achieved 44 percent of council’s goal to create 5,000 affordable housing units in three years.

There have been 2,219 affordable housing units completed and committed from January 2016 to August 2017, Housing and Neighborhood Services Director Pam Wideman reported Monday during a special City Council meeting. Affordable housing is defined as the occupant paying no more than 30 percent of his or her gross income for gross housing costs, including utility costs.

Additionally, City Council will consider approval of Fiscal Year 2018 Housing Trust Fund requests during the Sept. 25 council meeting that would add 769 more affordable housing units, bringing council to 60 percent of its goal. The City of Charlotte’s Housing Trust Fund was created in 2001 to provide gap financing to affordable housing developers through a competitive Request for Proposal process. To date, the city’s Housing Trust Fund has financed more than 6,000 units.

In January 2016, the City Council committed to providing 5,000 affordable housing units in five years. City Council’s Community Letter, issued on Oct. 3, 2016, reaffirmed and expedited the council’s commitment to the expansion of affordable housing through the creation of 5,000 units within three years.

Other Items

Councilwoman Ivory formally sworn in as District 2 representative

Councilwoman Carlenia Ivory was formally sworn in on Monday night during council’s business meeting. Ivory will represent District 2, which encompasses Uptown Charlotte in the Northwest District of the city, including the Third and Fourth wards.

On July 24, Ivory was unanimously selected by the Charlotte City Council to fill the District 2 seat vacated by Al Austin.

Ivory is known throughout Charlotte for her volunteer efforts and community activism. Ivory secured $250,000 from the Junior League of Charlotte to develop initiatives to make education a top priority in the Double Oaks community. Ivory also led efforts to raise funds for the construction of Oaklawn Recreation Center, now renamed the Ivory-Baker Recreation Center.

Ivory is a recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keeper of the Dream Award and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, one of the highest honors given by the state of North Carolina, for her efforts to improve education and promote family involvement in schools.

Council approves business investment grant for Allstate 

City Council voted to approve the city’s share of a Business Investment Grant to Allstate Insurance Company for a total estimated amount of $741,539 over five years.

On Aug. 9, Allstate Insurance Company announced its selection of Charlotte for a capital investment of $34.7 million to expand and establish a major regional operations center in Charlotte.

In addition to the capital investment, Allstate has committed to a minimum of 2,000 jobs to be hired locally over five years, with an average wage of $46,813, as well as 1,444 current employees in Charlotte to be retained for the term of the grant.

Council approves airport strategic business plan 

City Council voted to approve a contract with Innovat International Inc. to develop a strategic Airport Parking Business Plan and provide consulting services for a five-year term.

The Aviation Department seeks to complete a Parking Business Plan in order to better understand how to effectively manage, expand and modernize the airport in a way that benefits the customer experience and promotes additional revenue growth.

The plan will focus on the following components:

  • Airport parking management best practices
  • Passenger experience
  • Technology use and product definition
  • Fee structure and parking model integration
  • Promotion and marketing strategies.


For additional information about Monday’s council meeting, visit www.charlottenc.gov.

Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel and Angeline’s Restaurant Looking To Fill 180 Job Openings

Angeline's Restaurant Rendering

Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel and Kimpton’s adjacent restaurant Angeline’s and rooftop lounge Merchant & Trade, which all open this fall in the heart of uptown Charlotte, are holding two job fairs to fill 180 hotel and food and beverage positions.

A mix of full-time and part-time jobs are available, including 96 food and beverage positions and 85 hotel positions. Jobs to be filled include room attendants, maintenance engineers, housekeeping supervisors, front office supervisors, lead bartender, banquet chefs, cocktail servers, bartenders, sous chefs, and dishwashers.                               


Job fairs will be held 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, at two locations:

  • NASCAR Hall of Fame, 400 E Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 28202
  • Sugar Creek Brewing Company, 215 Southside Dr., 28217

Kimpton recently ranked #14 on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For 2017.” This marks the boutique hospitality company’s eighth year enjoying a spot on the esteemed list and represents the top ranking hospitality company as well. And Kimpton continues to score 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index.

Those attending the job fair are encouraged to bring a resume and will be required to complete an online screening form. To see available job listings, visit http://www.tryonparkhotel.com/ and click on “careers” at the bottom on the page. To learn more about Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, Angeline’s and Merchant & Trade, please visit facebook.com/TryonParkHotel,facebook.com/angelinescharlotte and facebook.com/MerchantAndTrade.

San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is a leading collection of boutique hotels and restaurants in the United States and the acknowledged industry pioneer that first introduced the boutique hotel concept to America. In 1981 Bill Kimpton founded the company that today is renowned for making travelers feel genuinely cared for while away from home through thoughtful perks and amenities, distinctive design that tells a story and inspires a sense of fun at each hotel and a sincerely personal style of guest service. Out to help people live full, balanced lives, Kimpton aims to inspire with touches like yoga mats in every room, complimentary coffee and tea to start the day, hosted evening Wine Hour, in-room fitness programming and complimentary bike rentals. The award-winning restaurants and bars are led by talented chefs and bartenders that offer guests a chance to dine like a local. Kimpton also leads the hospitality industry in eco-friendly practices that span all hotels and restaurants, and is consistently ranked as one of the top companies in the Market Metrix Hospitality Index, Upper Upscale Segment, for Customer Satisfaction. The company is highly-regarded for its innovative employee culture and benefits and has been named a Fortune magazine “Best Place to Work” five times since 2009. Kimpton is continuously growing and currently operates more than 60 hotels and nearly 70 restaurants, bars and lounges in 26 cities and counting. For more information, visit www.KimptonHotels.com.


‘Yiasou’ Greek Festival To Celebrate Greek Food, Music, Dancing And More Sept. 7-10

The Yiasou Greek Festival invites the public to celebrate its 40th annual event on Sept. 7-10. One of Charlotte’s most popular cultural events, it is hosted by the parishioners of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral and takes place on the church grounds at 600 East Blvd.

The family-friendly weekend features authentic Greek cuisine, homemade pastries, live traditional music and dancing as well as shopping and cultural exhibits.

The Holy Trinity Cathedral community has chosen to dedicate this 40th anniversary event to the residents of Dilworth.

“The Yiasou Greek Festival is a true community event, and a way for us to share our culture with a city that has been so good to us,” says John Tsumas, Chairman of the 2017 Yiasou Festival. “The Dilworth community in particular has been with us from the beginning and has given us wonderful support over the years.”

Festival visitors can sample a variety of delicious Greek specialties, from gyros and spanakopita to roasted lamb and pastichio. Dessert alone is worth the trip; patrons can try homemade baklava and loukoumades, the popular honey drizzled doughnuts, or visit the kafeneio tent for Greek coffee and frappe. A drive-thru menu is accessible via Winthrop Avenue. Kid-friendly menu options are also available.

Back by popular demand, some of the best Greek cooks in the community will host live cooking demonstrations, during which they will share secrets of their beloved family recipes.

Live entertainment is the centerpiece of the festival atmosphere and takes place on one indoor and two outdoor stages. The main tent is filled with the sounds of the mandolin-like bouzouki, and dance performances are scheduled throughout the weekend. Two live bands will be on site, strolling the grounds and accompanying folk dance performances.

Traditional Greek folk dancing is presented by Holy Trinity’s youth, ages 5 to 25, who dance, sing, and play the instruments of their ancestral villages. Members of Thrylos, Holy Trinity’s award winning adult dance troupe, will lead folk dance classes on the main stages.

In addition to browsing a wide variety of specialty vendors selling everything from Greek art to jewelry and imported groceries, festival patrons can also enjoy Greek wine tasting or mingle with Spartan warriors in full armor.

Members of the reenactment group “The Warriors of Greece” will be patrolling the festival grounds and are happy to pose for a souvenir photo. Chris Pangalos of The Warriors of Greece will offer entertaining talks on the military tradition of ancient Greece. In addition, young men dressed as Evzones will present daily reenactments (Friday – Sunday) of the ceremonial Athenian changing of the guard.

Visitors who prefer to get away from the outdoor festival buzz can step into the Cathedral for a choir performance (2:30, 3 and 3:30 Saturday only) or for a guided tour (every hour on the hour, except 3 p.m. on Saturday) of its stunning Byzantine iconography and architecture. Built in 1954, the Cathedral is the vibrant center of the Holy Trinity community’s religious life.

Younger patrons will enjoy the enhanced Children’s Playland with rides, face painting and concessions.

Festival admission is $3. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Visitors who ride the Lynx or CATS bus to the festival will receive free admission when they show their same-day stamped ticket.

School groups and senior citizen groups can also make arrangements for free admission by contacting the church office between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Monday – Friday) at 704-334-4771 by August 31.

For more information and a full list of festival attractions, schedules and menus, visit www.yiasoufestival.org.

PetSmart Donating Tons of Dog and Cat Food to Charlotte Area Charities

A local PetSmart volunteer gives a 38-pound bag of donated pet food to a client of the Food Bank for New York City’s Community Kitchen & Food Pantry, similar to donations being made in the Charlotte area

PetSmart has announced that the first of four massive pet food donation waves is underway in Charlotte and other m major cities, thanks to its philanthropic Buy a Bag, Give a Meal program. For every bag of dog or cat food purchased online or in its 1,500-plus stores through Dec. 31, 2017, the retailer will donate a meal to a pet in need. Through this historic program, PetSmart expects to donate 60 million meals to pets in need at hundreds of shelters and rescues across North America, as well as human food banks, pantries and meal programs, where pet food is a rare offering.

To get the food to those in need, the retailer is working with nonprofit partner PetSmart Charities, which is teaming up with GreaterGood.org’s Rescue Bank program and Feeding America®, two renowned national nonprofit organizations, to deliver this massive pet food donation immediately to pets in need across the U.S., as well as animal welfare agencies in Canada.

Over the next four weeks, a total of 92 semi truckloads will arrive in 70 cities in 31 states and three Canadian provinces carrying 17 million meals – more than 3.6 million pounds – to help feed hungry pets in need across North America.

PetSmart launched the Buy a Bag, Give a Meal program in celebration of its 30th anniversary, and with the expected 60 million meals donated under this program, it is the biggest philanthropic campaign in its 30-year history. As a point of reference, using a standard six-inch pet food bowl, 60 million meals lined up beside each other would span from New York City to Los Angeles and back again – covering more than 5,500 miles.

“The Buy a Bag, Give a Meal program is simple. Shoppers can buy any bag of dog or cat food, any size, any brand, and we’ll donate a meal to a pet in need,” said Eran Cohen, chief customer experience officer, PetSmart. “Together we have already generated nearly 30 million meals and are confident we’ll hit our goal of 60 million meals. We’re just getting started with this first wave of truck deliveries, with three more massive semi truck deliveries planned into 2018.”

Expertly Distributing the Massive Amount of Pet Food to Hundreds of Locations

PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, will take on the distribution of the massive amount of pet food donated by PetSmart and is dedicated to quickly and efficiently getting the pet food to hungry pets in need across North America. Rescue Bank will help allocate the donated pet food to animal welfare organizations across the U.S., and Feeding America will disperse the donated pet food to food banks, food pantries and meal programs. In Canada, four large animal welfare organizations from across the country, some who partner with or operate their own local pet food banks, will distribute the donated pet food.

“When our partners at PetSmart shared this big idea to donate a meal for every bag of dog or cat food purchased, we were overwhelmed by the generosity and thrilled to take on the challenge of distributing such a large volume of pet food to help pets in need across North America,” said David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., president of PetSmart Charities. “This program enables PetSmart Charities to continue our mission of helping homeless pets in need and connecting people and pets and keeping them connected. Supporting shelters and rescues is a big part of what we’ve done every day for more than two decades, and Buy a Bag, Give a Meal also allows us to help families in need by providing much-needed pet food, helping to keep pets with their families and out of shelters.”

During this first big pet food delivery wave now underway through Sept. 14, 92 semi trucks will deliver 17 million meals – more than 3.6 million pounds – to shelters, rescues and food banks across the U.S. and Canada. Three similarly sized truck deliveries are expected later this year and into 2018.

“We are pleased to team up with PetSmart Charities, which serves a major role in our Buy a Bag, Give a Meal program,” said Cohen. “PetSmart Charities is expertly getting the pet food to pets in need across North America. We are thankful to their team and their partners at Feeding America and Rescue Bank, for moving swiftly to effectively get the food to hungry pets that need it the most in hundreds of local markets across the continent.”

The pet food is made at PetSmart’s vendor partner American Nutrition Inc. (ANI) in Ogden, Utah, where semi trucks filled with 50 pallets each of donated pet food will roll out every weekday now through Sept. 14 for this delivery wave. Each weekday across the six weeks, trucks will leave ANI with more than 561,792 pet food meals on board totaling nearly 109,700 pounds.

Click here for a list of cities and nonprofit partners that will receive the pet food donated during the August and September truck delivery wave from PetSmart’s Buy a Bag, Give a Meal program.