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SUMMER GUIDE: 15 Cheap Thrills 

As we welcome the stickiness of another Southern summer, we bring you our annual guide to being the coolest person in your group. Who doesn't love the person who always knows what's going on in Charlotte, right? Exactly. We've also pulled out 15 events happening this season that are $5 and less. Because the best kinds of thrills are those that don't hurt your wallet.

#INSTABEERUPCLT

An informal monthly-ish networking event hosted by social media maven Corri Smith and Vintage Charlotte owner Amy Herman for all the cool kids. The next one happens May 28 at Birdsong Brewing. Stalk Facebook for more details.

RIVER JAM

The U.S. National Whitewater Center hosts a free concert every Thursday and Saturday from May through September. The lineup includes The Mantras, Jarekus Singleton, Ancient Cities and more. Free admission but $5 to park. 7 p.m.-10 p.m. usnwc.org/category/riverjam.

NEW FREQUENCIES: PAT O'NEILL

The showcase features short films from a guy who's got Star Wars on his resume. $5. June 12, 8 p.m.-9:30 p.m. McColl Center. Register at mccollcenter.org.

THE COSMIC UNION ZULUS' O&MI

A new monthly event offering a rare groove, afro-beat, hip-hop and soul vibe at Crown Station. The first edition brings Paco the Panik (Rougues & Rebels) and DJ Wizdom (Nastyfruit), as well as a set from The Dirty Drummer. $5. June 4, 9 p.m. cosmicunionzulus.com.

VINTAGE CHARLOTTE SUMMER MARKET

The ultimate pop-up shopping experience for vintage lovers. July 25, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free admission but $5 gets you in an hour early. The warehouse is located at 2205 N. Tryon St. vintagecharlotte.com.

CHARLOTTE PRIDE

The two-day festival where the LGBTQ community lets their flags fly high and proud. Free admission. Free. Aug. 15-16. charlottepride.org.

CONEXIONES: EXCHANGES ACROSS CULTURES WITH MUSIC

The Levine Museum's summer series shine a light on the dance and music of Latin America. Free. July 19, 2:30 p.m. museumofthenewsouth.org.

TASTE OF CHARLOTTE

The annual food festival that takes over five blocks of Uptown returns. Sample bites from Queen City Q, JJ's Red Hots and other restaurants while being entertained by live music, dance performance and more. Admission is free, but you gotta pay to eat. tasteofcharlotte.com.

SHIPROCKED

The weekly Thursday night party hosted by Scott Weaver at Snug Harbor is an oldie but goodie. Expect drag performers, live music and plenty of shenanigans. Free. facebook.com/shiprockedclt.

SEAC'S 2ND ANNUAL SOUTHEAST ASIAN STREET FOOD FESTIVAL

Witness a pho-eating contest at the Southeast Asian Coalition's second annual festival benefiting its youth program. Free to attend. June 6, 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Midwood International Cultural Center. seacnc.org.

PLAZA MIDWOOD ART CRAWL

A day where the neighborhood, its businesses and local artists showcase their talents and goods in the name of exploration and entertainment. Free. May 30, 4 p.m. facebook.com/pmartcrawl.

WEEKLY WEDNESDAY MEDITATION

For folks new and old to the practice, guided meditation happens every Hump Day at the Milford Chapel at Park Road Baptist Church. 7 p.m.-8:40 p.m. 3900 Park Road. insightmeditationcharlotte.org.

PARTY IN THE PARK

Weekly Wednesday evening concerts from jazz, rock, country, and tribute bands. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Romare Bearden Park. charmeck.org.

CHARLOTTE HEMPFEST

Featuring live music, hemp vendors, art and educational speakers and more to raise awareness of the benefits of farming hemp in America. Free hemp product samples will be provided. $5. June 6, 4 p.m. Jack Beagle's. facebook.com/CharlotteHempfest.

NATIONAL DANCE DAY

A grassroots initiative to encourage the nation, young and old, to move. Created by Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of So You Think You Can Dance. July 25, 1 p.m. Founders Hall. blumenthalarts.org.

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