Benson Mule Days (9/22/2012)

Not just Raleigh has its fall festivals. I suggest that after Hopscotch and SPARKcon, you head out for a somewhat different program at the Benson Mule Days. First, where is Benson? Have you ever noticed that going to and coming from the beach on I-40, the signs say you’re going to “Benson”, but then you actually never go through Benson? Well, for future reference, “Benson” is code for “the intersection of I-40 and I-95”. And Benson is also the location of the annual (63rd this year) Benson Mule Days.

A long weekend filled with small town fun, rides, parades, a rodeo and many four-legged animals, mules and others. Here is the website and their program.

The photo is Mule Riding Couple by Mangrove Mike, used under the CC BY license


Fire Truck Parade (8/11/2012)

Wait, didn’t we already have that? No, no, see: A few weeks ago, we had the Raleigh Fire Department Centennial Fire Truck Parade. This weekend, we’ll see the South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo’s Fire Truck Parade.

The parade starts at 9 a.m., but be there early – it is a pretty short route. The trucks start at the capitol, go down Fayetteville and switch over to Salisbury at the end. After the parade is over, the trucks go to the static display, where they can be looked at from up close, climbed on and sat in.

I may be a bit biased, because my son would happily go to a fire truck parade every weekend. But especially if you missed the last one, this is another opportunity to see some exciting vehicles.

Some impressions from the previous parade can be seen on

Independence Day 2012

Here some ideas to celebrate Independence Day:

Best fireworks for kids: First, if you can’t wait until tomorrow (or want the kids to see the fireworks and sleep in the next day), don’t be uppity and head out to Garner tonight. Their fireworks are earlier, the symphony is playing, and it is probably less crowded than “The ‘Works” in Raleigh tomorrow. Garner Independence Day Celebration, 5p-8p, July-3rd.

Best neighborhood parade: If you’re lucky enough to live in University Park, you have your very own Independence Day Parade right in your heighborhood. Firetrucks and Locopops; need I say more? University Park Independence Day Parade, 9:45am, July-4.

Best children’s parade: A bit out of the way, but specifically dubbed a children’s parade: Wake Forest Independence Day Children Parade, 10:30am, July-4.

Best parade that includes a splash-down from a fire truck: The Apex festivities include karaoke, inflatables and street performers in the morning and end with a parade and an opportunity to “cool off under the spray of the Apex Fire Department’s fire hose“. Town of Apex Olde Fashioned Fourth of July, activities 9a-12p, parade 12:00pm, July-4.

Best “let’s turn Independence Day into a three-day-festival”: As every year, Durham is hosting the Festival for the Eno with tons of activities. Festival for the Eno. Wed July-4, Sat. July-7, Sun. July-8.

And of course, there is also the Independence Day Celebration of the City of Raleigh which, following the overall trend, has moved from the fairgrounds to downtown and will take over Fayetteville Street and surrounding areas. Everything will be there, from a Reading of the Declaration of Independence to Arts Vendors to Circus to Music to Beer Tasting to, of course, at the end, Fireworks. This year, the Rotary Club will release 100 firefly lantern as a special treat at 9:30pm just before the fireworks. The ‘Works, 11am-10pm, July-4.

Also note that while the downtown museums (Science, History, Marbles) are open, the Art Museum is closed.

Fireworks Finish Up Raleigh Wide Open by abbyladybug, used under the CC BY-NC license


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.

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