After a two-year hiatus, Lego® KidsFest is returning to Raleigh, and will fill the convention center with joy, laugther and millions of lego bricks. This touring show has visited Raleigh once before, in 2012 when my son was still firmly in the Duplo age (see image below).
He is now approaching Small Lego age, and it is time to return to this cool event. No doubt about it; in the end this is a Lego promotion, but it is a lot of fun to attend, and while there are Lego sets for sale, there is no pressure to actually do so. (Your kids may have a different opinion, though.)
From memory, this is what stood out: First, the large Creation Nation is a giant outline of the US, which will be filled by small Lego creations from attendees. (I had fun with that myself while my little helper took a nap. Won’t happen this time.) The monochromatic builds (entire areas with just white or orange or whatever Legos) were also pretty cool. Then there are full-size models of Spiderman and the likes. A Lego-Pinewood Derby. And also various areas for the different Lego product lines like Lego City or Lego Technic.
Note that when you buy tickets, it is for a specific half-day: Saturday/Sunday, morning or evening. After the morning session, the exhibition closes briefly to be ready for the afternoon crowd again. All sessions are the same, and they usually do sell out.
Details and tickets (not cheap at $20/child and $22/adult) are available on the Raleigh KidsFest website. Note: This is still 10 weeks away, but it will sell out, at least some of the sessions.Creation Nation: Florida seen in a Lego world. (Photo Courtesy of LEGO® KidsFest.)
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!
Every industry has its trade show, and so do the firefighters. But unlike other industries, where booths filled with sales people and presentations by subject matter experts dominate, the firefighters know how to put up a decent parade.
In fact, the fire truck parade is on the same level as the annual holiday parades, well attended, and very interesting. Here is a video from last year:
The parade starts promptly at noon, and will probably not last for too long, so it pays to be there before 12. The parade route is down Fayetteville from the Capitol, and then hops over to Salisbury, passes the Convention Center (another good viewing area) and ends in a static display in front of the Performing Arts Center, where all the trucks can be viewed from up close.
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.
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.
Oak View is one of our favorite parks, often for is relative tranquil setting. But this Saturday, it will be buzzing and humming and roaring with the sounds of dozens of antique engines. The local chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America willl have its Spring Meet there, and the public is invited.
I haven’t been to this park when it is crowded, but it might be a good idea to park at the Olivia Rainey library, and take the short walk through the park. (Use 4016 Carya Drive in your GPS, or take the first left after turning onto Carya Drive, followed by a second left into the parking lot.)
This is an all-day affair, from 9am-4pm. One thing not to be missed is the Ford Model T quick assembly, which the club will perform at 11:30a and 2:30p. An entire Ford Model T will be assembled from a pile of parts to driving condition in a matter of minutes.
Harris Lake is a beautiful park, albeit a bit of a drive from (downtown) Raleigh. (~25 minutes) This Saturday, they celebrate their Longleaf Pines, and they have about 60 acres full of them. The Festival features hayrides through the longleaf preserve, entertainment, crafts, live animals and even a fire engine. Since this is not hipster downtown, but rather the rural fringe of Wake County, food will not be provided by some fancy food trucks, but catered by Chick-Fil-A. (So you might want to bring your own kale chips and alfalfa sandwiches.)