Tour de Toys 2013

If you’re brave enough to take on the cold weather and threatening rain, join the Tour de Toys bike “race” this Saturday morning. The race is family-friendly and in past years, kids in trailer, trailer-bikes and on their own bikes have participated. There is a 12-mi course for the ambitious and a shorter 6-mile ride for the leisurely minded. Two free beers (not for the kids) are included; your entry into the race is not a monetary fee, but a donation of a new toy worth $15 or more.

The race starts at 10am at Natty Greene’s, curves through downtown and ends again at Natty Greene’s for a post-race party.

It will be very cold with possible rain – dress accordingly. We’re planning to go with kids and all if the weather is not too crazy. See you there?

Tour de Toys, Saturday 10am, Natty Greene’s. Sign-up today online or tomorrow (if there are any spots left) in person.

Umbrella required – Hands optional (Photo by Franck Vervial, licensed un der CC BY-NC-ND)

American Indian Heritage Celebration

The NC Museum of History honors the American Natives of North Carolina with the annual celebration of American Indian Heritage. Did you know for example that Miss NC 2013 is an American Native? That NC has the largest Indian population of any state in the East? Or that there are eight recognized tribes in our state? Learn these and more facts, and have some direct encounters with the music, dances and cooking – if you’re lucky you might even run into Miss North Carolina Johna Edmonds. The event is taking place in the NC Museum of History and on the Bicentennial Plaza right outside the museum, and lasts from 11am to 4pm.

Touch a Truck in Cary

Bright Horizons Centers in the Triangle is hosting Touch-a-Truck day at their location in Cary (800 Weston Parkway, Cary, North Carolina 27513). It is $5 per child, and benefits the Bright Horizons foundation. Their Bright Spaces program provides homeless families and families in crisis a place to play and serves thousands of homeless children nationwide every month. (Just picture yourself for a moment, homeless, with children…)

So anyway, a worthy cause, and also a Touch-a-Truck day that is a bit closer than the other one I’m aware of and have written about, in Chapel Hill.

Note the limited time, from 10a-12p on Saturday morning. It does not say on the event page how many exhibits there will be, but they promise “a wide range of trucks and vehicles for kids and adults of all ages to explore”. Go, have a look, and touch a truck!

Touch a Truck!

Hansel and Gretel by RaleighACT Children’s Theater

The classic fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel will be performed by the RaleighACT children’s theater TONIGHT at 7p and tomorrow at 10:30am. RaleighACT is a “small but growing” theater for children, with different classes for different age groups. (4-6, 6-11, 9-13.) Hansel and Gretel will be performed by the 6-11 year olds.

I think I wrote in a previous post that such events bring back fond memories of my involvement with children’s theater in a previous life, and hope that perhaps my little ones will catch the theater bug one day. (And for now, I enjoy being a spectator.)

If you’re thinking about sending your kids to theater classes, this play can give you insight into what to expect, and you kids the chance to see whether they might enjoy standing on stage.

Hansel und Gretel by RaleighACT Fri 11/15 at 7pm, Sat 11/16 at 10:30am. $10 at the door or $6 by calling ahead (919-605-9946). Performance take place at Journey Church on 3500 Spring Forest Road (Raleigh).

Thanks to R. who sent me the information about this and who’s kids are in the play, I’m always glad to get leads for interesting events!

RaleighACT

Image from the 2012 program, (c) RaleighACT

Bluegrass and Barbecue

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Raleigh has snagged the Annual Bluegrass Convention and surrounding hootenannies from Nashville. If Bluegrass and Barbecue is not your world, it might be best to stay home for the weekend or go to the beach. (For better alternatives, see below.)

Assuming that you’re looking for some free entertainment with kids, here are the options: There are actually two kids’ areas, one next to the convention center facing the Marriott (Salisbury St.) and the other further up on Martin St. Near the main stage on City Plaza, there is a dedicated hula hoop space.

Want band recommendations? (see schedule for details):

Big Fat Gap (Fri 3p), Kruger Brothers (Fri 6:15p), Lou Reid and Carolina (8:15p) on Friday; then the Church Sisters (Sat 4pm), Vickie Vaughn Band (Sat 5:15) and Chatham County Line (9:30p) on Saturday.

And what about the barbecue?

The NC Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship is co-located with the festival. Pigs will go on the grill on Friday at 9pm, and will be ready on Saturday for lunch. Barbecue will be for sale after the judging is over.

bluegrass

Young Audience by Hindrik S, licenced under CC BY-NC-SA

BugFest

Another annual event that we’re looking forward to each fall is BugFest. It is organized by the Science Museum, and it clearly deserves being called a “Fest”. Live Bugs, Dead Bugs, Small Bugs, Big Bugs, Bug Movies, Bug Crafts, Bug Races, Bug Art: It is BugFest. To point out my personal favorites:

  • The Alberti Flea Circus: We’ve all heard of a Flea Circus, but have you actually seen one? Performing at BugFest throughout the day.
  • Cafe Insecta: They serve bugs. No kidding! Fried Grasshoppers, anyone?
  • Horseshoe Crabs: If you’ve been to an aquarium around here, you’ll know that they are among the most fascinating sea creatures.
  • Cyborg Insects: NC State’s iBionics Lab connects microcontrollers to cockroach brains, and makes them run left or right.
  • Stump the Experts: Bring any bug to the examination table and the experts will identify it. (We did that last year, and brought what turned out to be a Phidippus Audax we found earlier that day.)

Visit the BugFest website for detailed directions, or just head out to the museum and the Plaza and enjoy what you find.

Phidippus audax

Phidippus audax (yes, we singlehandedly caught one last year)

Raleigh M.A.I.N Event

MAINIf you’ve lived in Raleigh for a few years, you know that we’re getting ready for the busiest month: Babysitters are booked months in advance, OpenTable.com crashes and pedestrian traffic jams block downtown sidewalks. We used to call it just ‘busy September’, but this year it has become “The M.A.I.N. event“, a cleverly chosen acronym for music, art, innovation and, um, noise. So we’ll focus on the first two, since innovation is focused on grown-up stuff like entrepreneurship, angel funding and venture capital, and the noise, well, we parents have that year-round.

Of the 18 events that make up M.A.I.N, here are the best for families and kids:

  • The African-American Culture Festival is this weekend on City Plaza, and features a family village, including a stage with kids’ acts.
  • Hopscotch, a week later, has little to no kids-programming, but draws many fringe activities that make it fun to be downtown for all ages.
  • On that same Sunday, the Fiesta del Pueblo will have ‘Ninolandia’ for the kids.
  • Another week later, Sept. 12-15 is dedicated to SparkCon, with many options for kids, from music to street art to circus and fashion shows.
  • After catching our breath (or attending a few entrepreneur event without kids), we put in the ear plugs and get ready for Capital City Bikefest, organized by Ray Price Harley Davidson, and declared “family-friendly”. If you think kids and bikers don’t go together, read this article. There will be stunt shows and more to excite little vroom vroom fans.
  • As the bikers are rolling off into the sunset, we seamlessly shift into a quieter kind of noise, as Bluegrass takes over from Sept. 24-28. A whole week of music, trade fair and award show will offer plenty opportunities to bring your kids closer to this genre that is so closely tied to our state.
  • To round off the month, Marbles‘ birthday party is on 9/28, as is the (re-)opening of the City Museum.

Ready? As the wild things said, “Let the wild rumpus start!”