You think Food Truck Rodeos are all the rage? Wait until you see the Garbage Truck Rodeo! An annual event held at the state level and with national finals, the “SWANA Road-e-o” tests the skills of garbage truck drivers and mechanics. If you live in a neighborhood where the trash is picked up in back alleys, you are familiar with their skill to navigate big trucks through tight spaces.
My son has always been particularly fond of garbage trucks, and this event will not only feature trucks driving obstacle courses, there are garbage trucks that can looked at, touched, and climbed into. (The driver seat only, of course.)
The event takes place at the Wilders Grove Solid Waste Services facility; this brand new facility is worth a trip in itself, being the first LEED certified plant of this type, with many environmental improvements. (I’m not sure if this weekend it can be toured inside, though.)
The facility is at 630 Beacon Lake Drive, which is off 64 out towards Knightdale. (Follow your GPS and don’t turn at the first Beacon Lake Drive crossing, since this road is split in two disconnected parts.)
“To make” is probably one of the broadest terms in language, but Maker Faire does it all justice. Make your own combat robot? Crochet your own superhero mask? Build your own bass guitar? Fly to Outer Space, launching from the NC Fairgrounds? All that and more can be seen at the Maker Faire. MakerFaire is a mashup of robotics, hacking, crafts, knitters, steampunks and Stormtroopers. And my kids. you wonder? There are many kids in attendance, and a good number of exhibits are suitable for little ones. They may not yet appreciate the intricacies of a steampunk trebuchet, but they will like the Chaos machine (a marble run that is larger than their room), the combat robots, and much more.
The “Around Town” exhibit at Marbles has been closed for a few weeks because it was being updated and remodeled. (“Around Town” is the large exhibit when you come in, with the bus, the grocery store, the ambulance, the stage, and of course the train table.)
Most things are reportedly still there, and a new farm-themed topic has been added, to introduce kids to NC livestock and crops. I’m glad to see that the new train table is actually bigger, I was a bit worried it would have to make place for something else. (“Don’t mess with Thomess!”) I think we were actually there the last day that it was open, and it would only be appropriate to go back on the first day it re-opens.
Beyond the new exhibits, I also spotted a beautiful new mural by Denise Hughes, which is in my eyes one of the nicest aspects of Marbles. (I also like her recent work in the recently opened toddler room.)
This Saturday, Lake Johnson Pool opens at 10 a.m. and officially starts the pool season. The pool will be open daily until the fall and is also open on Monday (Memorial Day). The other pools will open soon as well, Ridge Road on June-1, and Chavis on June-8. Finally, I also want to mention Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center, which is indoors and open year-round, and a great alternative during the summer as well.
Update: We didn’t make it to the circus unfortunately, but a fellow local blogger (and clown!) wrote a very nice three-post series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) with many pictures about his visit to the Zoppe Family Circus. Go have a look!
I featured another circus a few weeks ago, and we’ll remember that one fondly as our family’s first circus experience. But depending on how the weekend pans out, we may go to the circus again, since Zoppe promises a small intimate circus right within walking distance.
Zoppe is a family circus, and its history is a marvelous read: Back in 1842 (no typo), a young clown from France (Napoline Zoppe) fell in love with an equestrian ballerina in Budapest, Hungary, much to the chagrin of the ballerina’s father. A clown just didn’t cut it. The young lovers ran away to Venice Italy and founded the circus. Napoline’s great-grandson Alberto came to the US to work for Ringling Brothers (in exchange for an elephant), and brought the circus over here. He performed in the circus until recently, well into his 80s, and today the circus is run by his son Giovanni, great-great-grandson of Napoline and pictured above as clown Nino.
Zoppe features clowns, acrobats, horses and dancing dogs. They perform Friday – Sunday in front of the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts. No online tickets – Advance Tickets at the box office or at the door.
Do you feel like the State Fair is a “must-see” for your kids, but do you loathe the crazy crowds? Try the Got to Be NC Festival instead.
Less crowded, less crazy, more family-friendly, more exciting. You still get all the main State Fair ingredients (rides, tractor pulls, lawn mower racing, farm animals, fried food), but in a more relaxed atmosphere.
The event kicks off Friday afternoon and continues through Sunday. Admission and parking is free.
Amtrak celebrates National Train Day this Saturday, and there are two ways to participate:
First, you can drive to Cary, where a quite large event is taking place in the downtown depot. Even better, you could take the (short) ride on the Amtrak from Raleigh to Cary; leave Raleigh at 11:45am and get back at 3:11pm, about 15 minutes on the train each way. Train fare $11/adult.
The event has a Chuggington exhibit, model trains and free train whistles, live music, hot dogs, and other things that get rail fans excited.
Secondly, you can take the train to Selma, where National Train Day is a major event for this quaint Eastern Piedmont town. For this trip, you would leave Raleigh at 10:25am and get back at 4:42pm, and spend closer to 40 minutes on the train each way. (You could of course also drive to Selma.) Train fare $16/adult.
Selma’s event is probably a bit smaller, but not any less exciting, with a live band, food vendors, kids activities and so on. There will also be trains arriving and departing while you’re there, going to far-away places like New York or Savannah.
If you’re planning to take the train to one of these events, let me know.