Science Olympiad at Marbles (1/19/2013)

The weekend weather will be clear, but bitter-cold, so what better to do that a visit to Marbles. This Saturday, Marbles is hosting another Science Olympiad with fun activities like building bridges (out of pasta) or rockets (out of paper). Science Olympiad is  a hands-on activity for the entire family, put together by, a non-profit with the aim to attract students to STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math).

Marbles, already a good place to geek out, will be even better this Saturday; the event takes place from 1-4p.

Science Olympiad by Art Jessen, used under the CC BY-NC license

Science Olympiad by Art Jessen, used under the CC BY-NC license



Touch a Truck (9/22/2012)

I featured another touch-a-truck event a while back that was in Chapel Hill, but this weekend we’ll have one in Raleigh: The best thing do do on Sunday afternoon is to head out to Dorton Arena on the fairgrounds and not only see, but touch, feel, smell, hear and operate all sorts of cool vehicles. From 11-12 is a ‘silent hour’ for special needs children (or others who hate loud noises), and no horn will be blown and no lights will be flashed.

After 12, “all the fire trucks go berserk!” (free after Sandra Boynton) as kids are allowed to sound the horns and activate the sirens!

There is an admission fee of $5/child (max. $20/family), but it is for a good cause. The event is put together by the Cary Pilot Club, and proceeds go towards helping people with brain-related disorders and injuries.

Kirby Derby (6/23/12)

I assume that by now, everybody has heard of Kirby Derby, the annual event in the Kirby-Bilyeu neighborhood featuring men in dresses, experimental soapbox designs and a deadly 90-degree curve at the bottom of a hill.

Kirby Derby is for sure the best soap-box race I’ve ever been to, and the surrounding events (a pinecar derby, a drag [queen] race and a parade) turn this into one of the most exciting small-neighborhood block parties across Raleigh.

The schedule of events is as follows:

4:00 Pinecar classic (a race for small boy-scouts-style pinecars)
5:30 Parade of all participants (drag race and Kirby Derby)
6:00 Drag race (as in drag queen, not as in dragster)
6:30 Kirby Derby (usually two runs and a final)
party with bands after that

Now mind you, while the Kirby Derby is decidedly a family event and while fans of all ages are welcome, all ages can have fun, including adults. If running drag queens, gory soapbox crashes and the occasional brown bag are too edgy for you, you might want to find an alternate program. But if this is all within your level of tolerance, you will have a wonderful Saturday afternoon that everybody will remember long after.

The event takes place in the Kirby-Bilyeu neighborhood, off of Western Blvd., where it intersect with Pullen Road. Check out the website for details.

Garbage Truck Rodeo (6/23/12)

No, this is a not a pun on a food truck rodeo. The Road-e-o is a competition for garbage truck drivers. As their website states, “Contestants representing public and private waste collection agencies will be competing […]. Drivers are required to maneuver competition vehicles through a preset course […].” The event is organized by the NC chapter of SWANA (Solid Waste Association of North America) and takes place at two locations, the South Wake Landfill at 6130 Old Smithfield Road in Apex, and (closer) at City of Raleigh’s Wilder’s Grove Operations Facility at 630 Beacon Lake Drive in Raleigh.

It is officially a two-day event for the participants, but the main competition takes place on Saturday from 8a-4p. This is the NC regional. The winner and runner-up ill continue on to the National Championship in Kentucky.

My son went through a phase of fascination with garbage trucks, and after seeing a ton of fire trucks last weekend, we need to pay the garbage trucks some respect!

Raleigh Fire Truck Parade (Raleigh Fire Department Centennial) (6/14/2012)

Thanks to go out to the loyal reader who sent in this event. Suggestions for posts are always welcome!

The Raleigh Fire Department celebrates its 100th anniversary this weekend, and what better way to do so than inviting a bunch of kids! How do you get the kids to come out? Fire trucks. Big ones. Old ones. Steam-engine driven. Hand-pulled. Remote-controlled (to play with). And speaking of play: a Kids corner with a bucket brigade game and toy fire truck races.

Here’s  a suggested itinerary for the day: Get to your preferred spot along the parade route early for the best view. The parade starts at 10am on Hillsborough at St. Mary’s. It will travel along Hillsborough to the Capitol and continue down Fayetteville Street to the parking lots in front of the Performing Arts Center.That also where the fire trucks (properly called “apparatus”) will be on display along with the Kids Zone, a Pumping Exhibit and the usual stuff like food vendors, and, of course, a huge birthday cake.

At noon, the antique steam engine driven fire engine will be demonstrated, and other ‘pumping displays’ (I assume that means splashing water in laymens’ terms) will happen before and after.

Did you know the Raleigh Fire Department covers on average 100 incidents per day? Show them your support and go celebrate their 100th birthday. More information can be found at

Got to Be NC Festival (5/18-20/2012)

I have a feeling that calling the good old “NC Ag Fest” a smaller version of the State Fair will offend some Agricultural Commissioners, but if you’ve never been, that is probably a good comparison. The Festival draws over 100,000 people, a lot, but also much less than the State Fair. There a rides and food stands, and anything you would expect to find on a farm: tractors, hogs, country music, and cows with big ass horns. (I’ve been told that ‘ass’ is appropriate when used for livestock…)

Specifically for the little ones I would point out the pig races, the petting zoo (with a porcupine?), and the antique tractors and cars. And maybe some of the tamer rides.
(if you follow the links, click Animal Encounters, Motorized Muscle, and Rides, respectively.)

Moving slightly outside the traditional scope of a farm, there will be a Roller Derby on Saturday and a BMX contest on Sunday. There are also country music concerts at night.

Support local agriculture and visit this annual event! It takes place out at the fairgrounds, and admission is free. (But rides, concerts and some other stuff require tickets.)

Pig Race at the Orange County Fair by szeke , used under the  CC BY-NC-SA license

Mount Olive Pickle Festival (4/27-29 2012)


If you love pickles, this is your weekend! Mount Olive, NC is the unofficial “Pickle Capital of the World”, complete with a Pickle Drop on New Years’ Eve and a Pickle Festival in Spring. It is taking place this weekend, and if you’re longing for a present-day Mayberry Town Fair, this is the place to be. There is live music, there are dance performances. There is food (not just pickles), there are craft vendors.

For “little girls (any age) and their very special guest” there is the “Pickle Me Pink Tea Party“, a “dill-ightful occasion” for $25/couple. 2p-4p, tickets required.

For the less pink inclined, there is the Antique Car Show taking place on Saturday as well.

Finally, don’t forget to bring a can of food for their food drive – Mt. Olive brand or other!

The picture of Cucumber and Vine is © Debbie Craft, used with permission.

Touch-A-Truck (Sun 4/15 2012 12p-4p)

This article was written in 2012. In 2013, the event takes place on Sunday, 4/14/2013; everything else is the same.

Well Touch-a-Truck sounds pretty cool, but it is actually an understatement: This more “touch a truck, armored vehicle, bus, backhoe, digger, helicopter day”.

The event takes place in Chapel Hill, on University Mall. Have a look at the slide show from 2011. Your kid sitting in the driver seat of a back-hoe? See an ambulance from the inside? Look up-close at a helicopter? A boy scout troop is organizing this and they think that “[…] young children ages 2-6 are especially thrilled by this event […]“. I couldn’t agree more! (And as they point out, kids and adults of all ages are welcome.)

University Mall, Chapel Hill, NC, 12p-4p. $5 for everybody over 2.

First Robotics Competition (4/52012-4/7/2012)

FIRST Robotics Competition by North Charleston , used under the CC-BY-SA license_resized

FIRST Robotics Competition

Every year in Spring, high school students around the world are in full-on geek mode as they prepare for the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST is a non-profit that encourages kids interest in science and technology.

This weekend hosts the regional finals at Dorton Arena. Building, programming and controlling the robots is decidedly stuff for high school kids, but watching the competition is fun for the entire family. WRAL has a video from last year’s event.

FIRST Robotics Competition by North Charleston, used under the  CC-BY-SA license. (This photo is from last year’s event in Charleston SC.)