Tour de Toys 2013

If you’re brave enough to take on the cold weather and threatening rain, join the Tour de Toys bike “race” this Saturday morning. The race is family-friendly and in past years, kids in trailer, trailer-bikes and on their own bikes have participated. There is a 12-mi course for the ambitious and a shorter 6-mile ride for the leisurely minded. Two free beers (not for the kids) are included; your entry into the race is not a monetary fee, but a donation of a new toy worth $15 or more.

The race starts at 10am at Natty Greene’s, curves through downtown and ends again at Natty Greene’s for a post-race party.

It will be very cold with possible rain – dress accordingly. We’re planning to go with kids and all if the weather is not too crazy. See you there?

Tour de Toys, Saturday 10am, Natty Greene’s. Sign-up today online or tomorrow (if there are any spots left) in person.

Umbrella required – Hands optional (Photo by Franck Vervial, licensed un der CC BY-NC-ND)

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American Indian Heritage Celebration

The NC Museum of History honors the American Natives of North Carolina with the annual celebration of American Indian Heritage. Did you know for example that Miss NC 2013 is an American Native? That NC has the largest Indian population of any state in the East? Or that there are eight recognized tribes in our state? Learn these and more facts, and have some direct encounters with the music, dances and cooking – if you’re lucky you might even run into Miss North Carolina Johna Edmonds. The event is taking place in the NC Museum of History and on the Bicentennial Plaza right outside the museum, and lasts from 11am to 4pm.

Christmas Parade

Correct, it is not even Thanksgiving yet, but we’re having the Christmas Parade. On its traditional route down Hillsborough and then Fayetteville Street, the Christmas Parade can be relied upon to warm hearts and freeze toes.

Some people arrive early and brave the cold and drizzly weather, while other come later and only admire the tallest balloons floating over the heads of people standing in front of them.

The parade is from 10:00-12:00, and is taking place for the 69th time. (And if you don’t like rain – the parade is also broadcast live on WRAL.)

Touch a Truck in Cary

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!

Touch a Truck!

Bluegrass and Barbecue

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.

bluegrass

Young Audience by Hindrik S, licenced under CC BY-NC-SA

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)

Eastern Triangle Farm Tour

First off, I was wondering why this is the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour. Is there a competing Western Triangle Farm Tour? Is it only in the Eastern part of the Triangle? Neither is the case, so it will have to stay a mystery. (Unless you know and tell me!) 27 farms, all over the Triangle and beyond, are opening their gates and barns to curious foodies, goat fans, and homesick farmer’s granddaughters.

You need to buy a ticket ($30 per car), and can visit as many farms as you can squeeze into four hours. (Or eight, if you go both days.) Farms are open from 1p-5p, so it pays to plan your route if you want to really see more than just 1-2 farms. Print the guidebook ahead of time.

One potentially good route would be to head out towards Bunn, where four farms are relatively close together. Don’t try to squeeze all four in, consider it three visits with one backup. Another option is to head South, where three farms are scattered around the Holly Springs / Fuquay-Varina area.

Here my personally picked tour: Leave Raleigh on Capital Blvd. and continue on to Hwy-401. Eventually you take 98-East and follow directions to Ray Family Farms, a meat farm with large black hogs, cows and free range chicken. If you’re vegan, you’ll like the next stop, Vollmer Farms, focusing on berries and vegetables. They also have a large unique playground (“The Back Forty”). Next stop could be Sun Raised Foods, a solar powered farm that raises lamb (sold at Whole Foods). Rare Earth Farms, if you still have time, focuses on Natural Grass-Fed Beef. Continue down Hwy. 39S and then on Hwy 64/264 back home. To conveniently load all addresses and directions in Google Maps, use this link.