R & B singer Janelle Monae. (Silvia Izquierdo/AP)

The convention, which takes place in Charlotte Sept. 3-6, will open with Carolina Fest 2012 on Sept. 3. This free, open-to-the-public, family-friendly Labor Day celebration will be held along Tryon Street from Stonewall to Trade streets.

CarolinaFest will feature two stages with live performances. The Main Stage will be at the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets in Uptown Charlotte. The Main Stage will feature actor and director Jeff Bridges and the Abiders, and performances by Janelle Monáe and James Taylor. The Carolina Stage, at the intersection of Levine Avenue of the Arts and Tryon Street, will feature and regional and local artists such as the Blue Dogs, Chairmen of the Board, NGP Music Group, Simplified and West End Mambo.

This festival also includes a wide variety of activities for all ages. There are games, interactive exhibits, local artists, arts and crafts, fitness and healthy eating activities, and Mayor Dave Norris’s four legacy areas. Legacy Village will give attendees the opportunity to see the accomplishments and actions in the mayor’s four convention legacy projects: Healthy Children, Healthy Families; Youth Employment and Civic Education; Building a Broader, More Inclusive Economy; and Energy, Technology and Sustainability.

Some of the highlights in the Legacy Village include:

Everyday Edison’s Pitch Booth, which will allow entrepreneurs to pitch their product ideas in one of the four legacy areas with the hope that an idea incubated at CarolinaFest will become a product.

Generation Nation will give youths a hands-on civics lesson with activities such as “What’s Your Civics IQ?”, “Kids’ Voting,” “Build Your Own Campaign!” and mock television interviews with the assistance of the YMCA.

The Field to Fork program will teach cooking and healthy eating, and allow attendees to create, prep and sample their own healthy pizzas.

Discovery Place will feature their high school Electric Vehicle Conversion Challenge and convert a conventional vehicle into an electric car.

Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds basketball-playing robot will teach participants about engineering concepts. In addition, a tornado simulator and interactive brainstorming games will encourage kids to think creatively and invent new products.

Need another way to experience Charlotte? Visit the museums. During Carolina Fest, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Gantt Center and the Mint Museum will be open free of charge.  Museums such as Discovery Place and NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Levine Museum of the New South will offer a discounted rates to visitors.

In the South, good food is king, and Charlotte is no exception. Whether you are in the mood for country comfort food or french pastries, there is something for everyone within walking distance of the DNC events.

King’s Kitchen (129 West Trade St.) is known for upgrading some of your favorite Southern classics using local ingredients. The restaurant is an outreach of Restoration Word Ministries and managed by Jim Noble Restaurants. All of the profits from sales go to feeding the poor in Charlotte, the region and the world. This is good food with a good cause.

Harvest Moon Grille (235 N. Tryon St.) is the labor of passion and love for chef and advocate Cassie Parsons. This farm-to-table concept utilizes items grown or raised within 100 miles of Charlotte.

Delta’s Restaurant (525 North Tryon St.) is a combination of old-fashioned Southern hospitality, good food and ambiance.This is a great place to eat and enjoy live entertainment.

Eats on the Go!Looking for variety and selection while you’re on the move? Not to worry. Charlotte food trucks are here. A selection of hand-picked food trucks will be serving up something delicious to attendees. The food trucks will be on Tryon Street on Sept. 3-5 and serving food from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Nearly 6,000 delegates will take part in this year’s convention — an increase from 4,419 delegates in 2008. Official convention caucus and council meetings will be held Sept. 3-6 at the Charlotte Convention Center. These meetings will be open to the public and are free.

Whether you go for the politics, the experience or the history, this year’s Democratic National Convention is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For more information, updates and schedules visit demconvention.com.

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