Whirligigs, Movies, Food, and Festivities This Fall in Wilson, NC

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. Photo: Kay Whatley, The Grey Area News
Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. Photo: Kay Whatley, The Grey Area News

There’s a little bit of everything going on this Fall in downtown Wilson, North Carolina. Activities relating to Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and the Whirligig Festival means that — in addition to the whirling going on overhead — the area will be a whirl of activity through the remainder of October and early part of November 2019.

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is located at 301 Goldsboro Street S, Wilson, North Carolina. It’s pretty hard to miss with the whirling “sculptures” projecting more than a dozen feet in the air and spinning with the breezes.

Activities below are planned for the park or taking place during the annual North Carolina Whirligig Festival.


Movies in the Park

Several dates remain for this free movie series, made possible by Cucalorus Pop-up Cinema and Gig East. Get to the park early to find a spot to watch the movies, and enjoy meal, snack, or popcorn. There will be food for sale in the park on some dates. Outside food and drinks may be brought into the park. Bring blankets and chairs for comfort on the lawn for this outdoor movie.

Movies begin at sunset. Scheduled this month:

  • Incredibles II — Friday, October 11, 2019 @ 7:30pm (Food sales by local organization)
  • Aladdin — Friday, October 18, 2019 @ 7:30pm
  • Detective Pikachu — Friday, October 25, 2019 @ 7:30pm (3 Stars Kettle Corn is coming)*
      *Movie on Friday, October 25, 2019 TIME CHANGED to 7pm
  • The Mask — Saturday, October 26, 2019 @ 8:30-10:30pm (following Downtown Beats & Eats Concert)

Movies are free. Food and beverages may be purchased. While food trucks might accept cards, movie-goers may wish to bring cash.

See these and more on the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park website at www.wilsonwhirligigpark.org.

Follow the park on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Park activities are managed by Gig360.


Downtown Beats & Eats

Now in its 6th season, this free concert series moved into the Whirligig Park for 2019. Each evening offers a free concert with local musicians, plus food trucks and adult beverage sales.

Remaining concerts:

  • Saturday, October 12, 2019 @ 4-8pm — Music by Fireside Collective & The Oatmeal Conspiracy
  • Saturday, October 26, 2019 @ 4-8pm — Music by Boom Unit Brass Band & Balter Brothers

As with other park events, bringing a blanket and chair may make the experience more comfortable.


Feast of the East

A new-this-year fundraising dinner for the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, “Feast of the East” is Friday, November 1, 2019, 7-10pm, in the park.

Come and listen to live music while partaking of all-you-can-eat oysters and barbecue with two beverages.

Billed as “An Eastern NC Culinary Experience” the event includes an oyster roast and a pig roast, with food provided by Oysters Carolina and The Blind Pig. Beer and wine will be available. The menu includes these items and more:

  • Wood Fired Whole Hog Barbecue
  • Smoked Pork Spare Ribs
  • Gumbo with Brewers Pork Sausage
  • PL Woodard Molasses BBQ Chicken Wings
  • Sweet Potato Hand Pies
  • Cauldron Cabbage Collards
  • Hushpuppies

“Experience Tickets” are $65 per person and may be purchased via this Feast webpage.

Sponsorships of the Feast of the East event are also available for $500 each, which includes sponsorship recognition on printed materials and event program plus four “Experience Tickets.”

Tickets are limited to 250 people, and a sell-out for this first-annual all-you-can-eat event is likely.

Music will be provided by Ally J’s Music.

Proceeds from the Feast of the East will benefit the Gig360 Young Professionals group and the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.

The Feast date celebrates the anniversary of the park’s opening.


Whirli-Run 5K and 10K Races

On Saturday, November 2, 2019, 8-10am, runners can enjoy a morning race from the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park area through Historic Downtown Wilson. Sign-in will begin at 7am.

Get a running start before the Whirligig Festival by signing up for either the Whirli-Run 5K or the 10K. Sign up to take part in a run at runsignup.com/Race/NC/Wilson/WhirliRun. Fees are $25 (5K) and $30 (10K) until the registration deadline of Halloween, October 31, 2019.  (To receive a race t-shirt, register no later than October 24.)

Registration the day of the Whirli-Run will be $30-$35.

These events are hosted by the Wilson Endurance Club. A portion of the race proceeds will go to Diversified Opportunities, Inc in support of the WhirliDogs culinary training project.


Whirligig Adjacent: Imagination Station Chiligig

The Imagination Station Science and History Museum, located at 224 Nash Street SE, Wilson, NC just two blocks from the Whirligig Park, will be holding its Chiligig 2019 during the NC Whirligig Festival.

On Saturday, November 2, 2019, 11am-3pm, teams will prepare chili and compete for your vote while raising funds for a solar kinetic sculpture and museum exhibits.

The chili cooking competition is open to everyone including “civic clubs, churches, individuals, businesses, restaurants, and nonprofits.” This Imagination Station event is limited to a maximum of ten competitors. Competition entrance fee is $50.

Chiligig “bottomless bowl” tickets are $10 per person. Come and taste each spicy (or not) creation and vote for your favorite. Beverages will be available from Casita Brewery. Proceeds benefit the Imagination Station’s programs and exhibits.

For more information on Chiligig or to register to cook or pre-purchase an entry ticket, visit the Imagination Station web page at ScienceAndHistory.org/chiligig2019.


North Carolina Whirligig Festival

The annual festival is scheduled for November 2-3, 2019. The weekend will be filled with music, food, vendors, and more. As with each of the festival’s 15 years, admission is free.

Three stages will be set up with live entertainment throughout the weekend. See the full list of artists by stage at www.whirligigfestivalnc.org.

More than 200 vendors are expected offering arts, crafts, and much more. Shop and meet local business owners.

The Whirli-Kidz Zone returns with activities for the kids.

A wide variety of foods will be for sale throughout the festival area.

For updates, Follow the Whirligig Festival on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WhirligigFestival.


Ed. Note: Article published October 5, 2019. Updated October 25 with movie time change (Wilson, NC).

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About Kay Whatley 2309 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.