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)

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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!”

Zoppe Family Circus in Raleigh (5/17-5/19, 2013)

nino_child_01_sm

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.

Image (c) Zoppe Family Circus.