Attend the 5th annual Whirligig Festival in downtown Wilson this weekend. Known as the arts festival with hometown flare, the festival features more than 200 vendors, live bands on three stages, plenty of good eats and arts and crafts on Wilson’s main drag, Nash Street near the Wilson County Courthouse.
The Whirligig Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6 and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7. The Southeast Tourism Society has recognized this family-friendly festival as one of the top 20 fall events.
Activities also include a Whirli-Kidz Zone with bounce houses, inflatable obstacle courses, tricycle races for parents and children, and Sumo wrestling complete with inflatable suits.
Of course, the man of honor will be there too. Vollis Simpson, the creator of the whirligig.
In conjunction with the Whirligig Festival, the public is invited to watch the start of the conservation for the first whirligig for the new Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.
Simpson, a 91-year-old Lucama native, is one of the state’s most recognized artists for his large-scale, colorful wind-powered whirligigs.
Last May, Wilson officials, with the support of the North Carolina Arts Council announced the creation and development of the Whirligig Park as a part of downtown revitalization efforts and the development of an arts district. The park will be a major destination for cultural travelers worldwide and a unique gathering place and public green space for Wilson County.
The first whirligig of the 29-piece collection will be removed from Simpson’s home and brought to a downtown warehouse Thursday, so that conservation efforts can start or begin.
On Saturday several events associated with the proposed park are scheduled in conjunction with the festival.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the public is invited to visit 307 Barnes St. S. (at the corner of Barnes and Douglas), where the first whirligig will be conserved and to observe the team of professional art conservators working on the piece.
At the same time, the public is invited to participate in an oral history project. People can comment on their memories of Simpson, recollections of seeing his art, reflections on the whirligigs and how they were impacted or inspired by the work. These recordings will be archived and used for the project.
At 5 p.m., the project’s lead art conservator, Howard Wellman, will talk about the conservation and answer questions
Then the fire spinning performance starts at 5:30 p.m. It will be held at the lot at 300 Goldsboro St., the future home of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.
Enjoy the brilliant celebration of light and color though a fire spinning, dance and drumming performance by the famous Caroleena and Friends of Circles of Joy Hoops and Poi of the annual Burring Man Project.