The Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival works to enrich the community, enhance Cary's identity and foster community pride by celebrating the excellence in the visual and performing arts. This is achieved through the following goals.
- Bring the highest quality national artists and provide an outlet for local and emerging artists to exhibit and sell their artwork and a place where they can have peer interaction and idea-sharing.
- Provide a family oriented recreational and cultural community based event that is free to the public.
- Expose the community to a variety of high quality art forms.
- Collaborate with local arts organizations to provide exposure for their organizations.
- Provide an opportunity for local artists to demonstrate artwork via guild demonstration booths.
- Provide a signature event that bring a positive economic impact to the Town of Cary's downtown area.
- Maintain the highest quality possible to represent the Town of Cary and the Triangle region in the most positive light and provide positive artistic experience for the community.
- Showcasing Cary's outstanding Parks & Greenway system (through festival location for Spring Daze) and cultural facilities via Lazy Daze (Cary Arts Center; Page-Walker Arts & History Center; The Cary).
The first Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival was held on August 27, 1977 on E. Chatham St. between Academy St. and Walker St. The event was sponsored by the Cary Board of Directors of Southern National Bank. There were 100 artisans who were charged $10 for their 10' x 10' booth space. A flatbed truck served as the first stage and the organizers forgot to bring the piano needed from Jordan Hall, leading them to have to retrieve it the morning of the festival. The festival turned a $500 profit that was used to purchase a large tent for the Town of Cary's recreation department. For the remainder of the 1970's, the festival grew to include 250 artists and a covered stage. The festival in 1979 featured the first flower arranging contest.
The 1980's were a time of great growth for the festival. 1981 featured the first time the festival was held on Town Hall Campus due to a downtown renovation. The newly formed Lazy Daze grants program provided funds for the Cary Town Clock (located at the corner of Academy St. and Chatham St.) in 1983 and the Lazy Daze Playground in 1985. The festival became the fourth largest in NC in 1986, had it's first parking shuttled in 1987, and became a juried art festival in 1989. The Cary Town Band made their first appearance at Lazy Daze in 1988.
In the 1990's, the festival grew to include around 500 artists. To meet the demands of the growing festival, Amtrak offered train service to the festival from Durham, NC and back and restroom trailers were added in 1994. Long-time organizer Sam Bishop retired from the festival in 1999.
The 2000's featured many firsts for the festival. Kids World was introduced in 2000 as a play and activity area for young festival goers. 2001 was the 25th anniversary of the festival and featured the first invitational awards and a special exhibit reflecting on the 25 year history. In 2006, an estimated 2 million commemorative Diet Pepsi cans were distributed throughout North Carolina. The first beer garden was introduced in 2007 and was sponsored by the Sister Cities Association of Cary, who bring cultural representatives from Cary's sister cities to the festival.
By 2010, the Lazy Daze grant program had awarded over $500,000 to local cultural groups and that number increased to $750,000 by 2018. But in 2011, for the first time, the festival had to be cancelled due to Hurricane Irene which made landfall at 7:30 a.m. on the day of the festival. In 2015, the festival moved back to Town Hall Campus as another downtown renovation was in progress. The festival remains on Town Hall Campus to this day. In it's new location, the festival expanded to a two-day format in 2017 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the festival. The Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival made its debut on the Sunshine Magazine Top 200 list in 2018, placing 47 out of 100 in Classic and Contemporary Art Festivals. The award was achieved again in 2019 placing 20 out of 100.
In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was cancelled for the second time in it's history.
2004 - Regional Event of the Year for North & South Carolina by the North Carolina Association of Festivals & Events
2016 - Cary Maggy Award for Best Local Event of Festival in Western Wake County
2017 - Cary Maggy Award for Best Local Event or Festival in Western Wake County
2018 - Cary Maggy Award for Best Local Event of Festival in Western Wake County
2018 - Sunshine Artists Top 200, placing 47 out of 100 in Classic and Contemporary Art Festivals
2018 - WRAL Voter's Choice Award for Best Festival
2019 - Cary Maggy Award for Best Local Event or Festival in Western Wake County
2019 - Sunshine Artists Top 200, placing 20 out of 100 in Classic and Contemporary Art Festivals
2020 - Sunshine Artists Top 200