Pline Mounzeo (photo via

Chapel Hill is home to a diverse population, and the Near & Far Festival is hoping to highlight our global cultural connections in its second annual iteration.

Taking place on Sunday, April 28, from 1 to 5 p.m., the festival at 140 West Plaza on Franklin Street will host international food offerings, live music, dance and other art performances and pieces suitable for all ages.

Orange County is home to people from all over the world — some for the duration of their education, some for a lifetime. Billed as “a local celebration of global cultures,” the Near & Far Festival is meant to celebrate the vibrancy of our local community and allow everyone a taste of cultures different from their own. Filled with street performers, cultural booths, traditional music from a variety of regions and more, the festival is set to be a fun and free-spirited whirlwind tour through some of the best – and most interesting – things Chapel Hill has to offer.

Aaron Keck, Pline Mounzeo and Susan Brown

Pline Mounzeo – a traditional Congolese drummer and modern dancer – is one of the featured performers at Near & Far. Born in the Congo, Mounzeo moved to Senegal after civil war broke out in his home country. Since an early age, he’s been a student and teacher of traditional Congolese drumming and dance across the United States and the world. His first album, titled “Bou Nzenza,” was recorded in Chapel Hill by Double Decker Bus Music. You can listen to a conversation between Mounzeo and WCHL’s Aaron Keck – along with a short preview performance – below.




Aaron Keck and Russell Johnson

Another featured performance at the festival will be the student-led Carolina Bluegrass Band, who debuted in 2016 opening for the Steep Canyon Rangers in Memorial Hall. Since then, the band has established itself as a place for traditional and contemporary bluegrass that carries classic North Carolina musical tradition into the modern day by involving students and teaching stagecraft, sound design and the practical skills required to maintain a band through a 10-20 member bluegrass group.

You can listen to another interview with Aaron Keck below, as he speaks with the director of the Carolina Bluegrass Band, Russell Johnson.


Ryan Dial-Stanley and AJ in the 97.9 The Hill Studios

A festival favorite from last year, Ryan Dial-Stanley is returning with his interactive exhibit of hide and deerskin art. Dial-Stanley is a UNC student, a member of the Lumbee  Tribe, and a well-known flutist and storyteller. In an interview with WCHL’s AJ, he explains how he began exploring visual arts, specifically, working with hides,  and what you can expect when you come out to his exhibit at the Near & Far Festival this weekend. You can listen to the full interview here.


The Near & Far Festival will, of course, feature far more than Congolese drums and Carolina bluegrass. There will be Capoeira exhibitions, Chinese dancers, Ukranian charm dolls, Nordic folk music, Native American deerskin painting and more. Parking infor  mation can be found here, and parking is free on Sundays in all public lots and decks in downtown Chapel Hill. For more information about the event itself, you can visit the Near & Far website here.