I think nobody needs convincing that Raleigh is more mulitcultural than ever, but if you wondered just how many immigrant communities there are, come out to the International Festival at the Convention Center this weekend. From El Salvadorian dance to Lebanese food and Vietnamese cooking demos, you will find something from all the places you’ve always wanted to visit but never got to go.
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.
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.
The NC Museum of Art has an interesting exhibit revolving around time, but its time is nearly up: “0 to 60” will end on August-11. Not every piece in the show is specifically geared towards children (although all of it should be ‘suitable’). but some are either funny or interesting even for younger kids.
A site-specific installation by Lisa Hoke, for example, is made from plastic and paper cups, and might inspire someone for a future craft project. Some large video installation will be fun to look at, as the slow, meditative images are very different from the concrete, fast-paced videos children typically get to see.
If your kids are old enough to stay up late and you like short-notice plans, “Cars” by Pixar is playing in the outdoor movie theater tonight (Friday, 7/26).
While we’re talking about the Art Museum: The museum park is always worth a visit and has a few new items, including an installation related to 0 to 60, and is always a welcome way to let one parent take the kids outside, while the other parent can have a quick look at the other exhibits currently on display: Two interesting shows have opened recently, both with themes that are more on the grown-up level.
“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.
- North Carolina’s 4th Mini Maker Faire set for June 15 (makezine.com)
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.)
Marbles is dressing up in red, white and blue on Memorial Day, and creating a splash. Topics will include rocket science, fireworks painting, and a “Star-Spangled Dance Party”. Marbles is open from 9-5 on Monday.
As part of Artsplosure, the City has placed six artfully adorned pianos at various downtown locations. The public is invited to play them – no skills required! The pianos are placed at the following locations:
- outside City Hall (Hargett&Dawson)
- in front of Duke Energy Center
- on City Plaza
- in City Market (across from Big Ed’s)
- in Moore Square (by Marbles)
- in Marbles’ courtyard
Photo (c) City of Raleigh.