The 19th annual Heavy Rebel Weekender is just over a week away, so it’s time to start getting ready.

And veterans of the festival — which celebrates music, vintage cars, burlesque and more — have a lot of suggestions, culled from years of experience attending the three-day event. We asked them for tips on social media.

“Bringing silly stuff to share is always fun, and it can make you some new friends,” said Courtney Southern, one of the organizers of the festival. “Think gummy bears, water pistols, silly string ... basically, a trip to the party store should take care of it.” She fondly recalled one year when Don Tidwell, a festival regular, brought business cards to assist with making new friends.

Many people brought up the same recommendations, in particular:

≤ comfortable shoes you can dance in;

≤ a good attitude and a willingness to make new friends. As Christy Yaw Wood put it, “bring a great attitude and some open arms to meet like-minded rebels”;

≤ cash for the vendors.

Shops and restaurants along Trade and Liberty offer spots to relax, refuel and cool down from all the activities.

The main suggestion is to have fun. “Leave judgment and an preconceived notions at home,” the HRW Facebook page recommends. “Bring your friends. Everybody can have a good time!”

As to some more specific suggestions, “Get to some of the local restaurants near the Millennium Center,” Mona Crain said. “HRW was my first real exposure to Winston-Salem.” She said the friends she made at the festival led to her coming back to Winston-Salem throughout the year, not just in July, and eventually led her to move here.

Michelle Knoll advised bringing “a fanny pack or small back pack. You don’t want to lug around your giant heavy purse all day, and you have to have breakfast or lunch at Mary’s Gourmet Diner. I think about the menu all year long until I’m back in WS.”

She also recommended bringing a bathing suit. “It’s like 400 degrees, the Marriott has a pool, and don’t forget the mud pit!” Wood also recommended “comfy shoes and cool clothes. It’s hot hot hot, and especially for us curvy girls.”

Rick White (and several other folks) recommended bringing sunscreen for the car show, when people will spend hours outdoors admiring vintage cars, taking part in the annual mud-wrestling contest behind the Millennium Center, and socializing. “Also, don’t forget to pre-game,” he said. “I start at least two weeks out. Your liver will thank you.”

“Definitely wear your party pants!!!,” wrote Scott Kasper.

While on the subject of clothes, Drew Badger added, “Bring clothes you don’t mind getting sweaty/dirty/soaked in beer.”

And Mike Kemp recommended bringing a camera or phone, since there is “lots of cool stuff to take pictures of, whether it be the cars, the people or the town. Great place to go and meet all kinds of great people.”

Heavy Rebel is always on the weekend closest to the Fourth of July, which this year will be July 5-7. But the festivities will start one night early, on the Fourth itself, with a Pre-Party Pig Pickin’ and Back Porch Jam on the back dock of the Millennium Center, running from 6 to 11 p.m.

The festival itself begins in earnest a week from Friday, with performances on three stages in the Millennium Center by bands playing rockabilly, honky-tonk, rock ‘n’ roll, country, punk rock, garage rock other genres. About 50 bands are scheduled to perform over the three days; a schedule will be posted online at

Returning favorites this year include American Speedway, Dex Romweber, the Hashbrown Belly Boys, Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones, Phatlynx, The Zoo Peculiar, Viva Le Vox, Tan & Sober Gentlemen, Roy Wilson and the Buzzards, Hickry Hawkins, and local faves including The Tremors and the bo-stevens.

Burlesque performances will not only be in the Wiggle Room, a fourth stage, on Friday and Saturday nights, but also on the main stage Friday and Sunday nights. The annual “wet wifebeater” shirt contest will be held Saturday on the main stage, and Sunday’s events will include the annual Krispy Kreme Doughnut eating contest, a PBR drinking contest, an upright bass slapdown competition, and founder Dave Quick’s Rock n’ Roll Round-Up All Star Jam, as well as the return of Adam the First Real Man, a sideshow performer from Coney Island who performs various carnival stunts.

The car show, which is free to attend, will run Saturday, July 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Trade Street from Fifth to Eighth streets; Liberty from Fifth to Seventh; and on Sixth and Seventh. The event is hosted by Winston-Salem’s own Camel City Skulls car club, and typically draws more than 500 vehicles. It is limited to pre-1972 cars, trucks, custom motorcycles and bikes. Awards, including Furthest Driven, Best Paint, Best Classic, Best Custom, Filthiest Rat, Best Motorcycle and Skulls Choice, will be announced at 3 p.m. at the back dock of the Millennium Center, where the annual mud wrestling contest will also be held. The Millennium Center will be open at noon for vendor shopping, food and drinks, and will be open to the public while the car show is going on.

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