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Chapel Hill, N.C.

[Festival Website]
[Current festival information]

ProgDay bills itself as "the outdoor festival of international progressive rock" and claims to be the longest-running progressive rock event in the world. After 22 years, as of the 2016 edition, it remains a small, intimate gathering that is more of a lawn party than a rock festival.

It is held on a large, grassed lawn at Storybook Farm just over the Chatham County line southwest of Carrboro and Chapel Hill. The lawn has a small covered stage and a pavilion.

Because the festival is held Labor Day weekend (usually hot in central North Carolina), organizers suggest canopies or umbrellas, which create a tent city typically from the soundboard on back.

Another look back at the audience from the side of the stage.

Pushing tents back to the soundboard leaves plenty of room down front, where at the very edge of the stage the roof over the stage casts a shadow most of the day.

In the pavilion, at left beyond the audience below and just a few feet from the stage, a caterer provides plate meals. The festival also allows grills and camp stoves (as well as your own food and drink), but not open fires.

CDs, T-shirts and other souvenirs are sold in a large tent behind the audience area.

The large lawn provides plenty of room for play.

The vibe at ProgDay is absolutely relaxed. The only contact we had with staff or volunteers was when we bought our ticket. Kids ran around freely, and there was no problem and no hassle if you wanted to take photos or even tape the show at the very edge of the stage, or walk around behind the stage. (Permission to tape a show may vary among individual bands.)

Below, a fan chats with members of Venezuelan band Backhand - bassist Oscar Fanega (left), guitarist Pablo Mendoza, vocalist Phil Naro (back to camera) and keyboardist Adrianus van Woerkom (obscured) - at the 2014 festival.

Part of the reason ProgDay remains small is the limited audience for progressive rock, but the festival draws fans from up and down the East Coast. And, according to the website, bands from 22 countries have played the festival as of 2015, and about a quarter (24 percent) of the foreign bands that have played ProgDay were making their U.S. debut.

Since 2001, ProgDay has been run as a nonprofit by a committee that includes underwriters who foot the bill if the festival does not cover its costs, organizers say.

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