2019: Start marking your calendar!

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We have an entire year to enjoy the arts and entertainment events offered in Wilson and around the region.

There’s always so much to do here — whether it’s attending a play at Boykin Center or dancing to the beat of a concert at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.

Many of those events will be highlighted this year in the pages of the monthly Wide Awake Wilson magazine.

On the first of each month, newspaper subscribers will find a copy in their newspaper. Individual copies of Wide Awake can be picked up at the newspaper office and at select sites in town. Local hotels also carry individual copies for guests.

N.C. Whirligig Festival

One of the biggest events of the year in Wilson takes place on Nov. 2-3 in downtown Wilson.

The N.C. Whirligig Festival draws thousands of visitors to Wilson for the food, the arts and crafts vendors, the music, and, of course, the whirligigs!

The 2018 edition of the annual festival drew an estimated 50,000 to the event.

1st Fridays on the Lawn

Every year, families gather on the lawn at the Wilson County Public Library for a four-month series of concerts on the first Friday of the month.

This year’s concerts will be July 5, Aug. 2, Sept. 6 and Oct. 4.

Bands feature a variety of music from country to rock ’n’ roll.

The free event also includes food vendors, fun for the kids and community informational booths.


The annual large-scale photo exhibit returns to Nash Street this spring. The opening of the main exhibit will be Saturday, April 27.

In addition to the main exhibit of 100 photos, there will be two children’s exhibits featuring young Wilson photographers, an Eyes on Australia exhibit and a residency exhibit with photos from artists in residence from around the world.

Also returning will be lectures and children’s workshops.


There are two shows left in the current season for the local theater group.

The musical “The Best Little Whorehouse of Texas” tells the story of Miss Mona’s cozy bordello. It will be presented at The Boykin Center March 8-9 and March 15-16 at 8 p.m. and March 10 and 17 at 3 p.m. Auditions for this show are Jan. 7-8 starting at 6:30 at the Boykin Center.

In May, Playhouse will stage “Over the River and Through the Woods.” The show will be presented May 3-4 at 8 p.m. and May 5 at 3 p.m. Auditions are March 18-19 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Boykin Center.


There are several shows left in the 2018-19 Boykin Center Series: the bluegrass band Chatham County Line is here Jan. 18, Lorrie Morgan will perform at Boykin Center Feb. 22, the New York Theatre Ballet presents a show March 20, and C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band plays April 19. For tickets call 252-291-4329.

ACT! for Youth will take the stage the weekends of Feb. 1-10 for a presentation of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” The kids will be back on stage April 5-7 to present “The Wind in the Willows.”

Gallery shows continue at the Boykin Center’s Hammond Gallery with artist Richard Wilson’s work featured Jan. 10 to Feb. 23, Miniature Masterpieces Feb. 28, and Mark Gordon: 20 Years in Wilson, March 14-April 27.


The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park will be hopping again this year, with many events from the Wilson Farmers and Artisan Market to Gig in Park, which is moving to Thursdays starting April 18, and Downtown Beats and Eats in the fall.

Wilson Downtown Development will be partnering with the Arts Council of Wilson and downtown merchants to launch a new, quarterly celebration of the arts, according to Susan Kellum, downtown marketing and communications coordinator.

Kellum said dates for the Historic Downtown Wilson Christmas Parade and A Downtown Christmas haven’t been decided yet.


Mark your calendar for this year’s Wilson County Fair, Sept. 17-22 at the Wilson County Fairgrounds on U.S. 301.

Other fairground events this year include the Truck and Tractor Pull Aug. 2-3 and the Farm Toy Show and Craft Show Nov. 29-30.


Summerville Promotion and Production Company will have a new twist to its Idol show this year. Instead of having a competition, the Sept. 7 event will feature winners of the Idol competition from 2013 through 2018. The Idol competition will resume in 2020. The location for the Sept. 7 event hasn’t been announced yet.


This year’s Miss Wilson Pageant will be Oct. 26. The current Miss Wilson is Jerenae Raeford. Wilson’s Outstanding Teen is Cassie Scott.


Barton’s spring semester will bring a number of arts events, starting with the Eastern/ Central N.C. Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition Feb. 10-22.

A favorite event with the Barton and Wilson communities continues on Valentine’s Day with Love The Symphony.

If you enjoy theater, plan to attend Theatre at Barton’s presentation of “The Importance of Being Ernest” Feb. 21-24 in the Kennedy Family Theatre. Students will be back on the stage in April for the Senior Showcase.

If you enjoy visual arts, check out “Cynthia Bringle and Friends: A Ceramics Group Exhibition” March 21-April 18 in the Barton Art Galleries. Return later in May to see the annual Senior Art Exhibition.

Other arts events at Barton this semester include the Barton Choir Concert on April 23 and the Barton College/ Wilson Symphony Spring Concert April 28.

Imagination Station

Plan on attending the science and history museum’s monthly Fabulous Fridays events this year, from February through May.

The museum has several other special events planned this year including a birthday party for Jimmy the Burmese python on Jan. 18, the annual egg drop April 5, a statewide star party April 19 and candy science night for adults April 20. In October, the Redwood Garden Party returns, and adults can spend a mystery night at the museum. Boo Bash is planned for Oct. 26, and the chili cookoff/ fundraiser ChiliGig is Nov. 2.


The artists at Art Ventures & Barnes Corner Gallery plan a full 2019 calendar of artistic adventures, including the monthly First Friday celebrations from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the first Friday of the month. That will carry over to First Saturday shopping hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the 200 Tarboro St. W. location.

First Friday celebrations including Raleigh muralist and painter Dan Nelson and Wilmington ceramic artist Marty Allran in January; a Spread the Love event Feb. 1 with a food drive for Hope Station and new works by resident artists Pegi Barnes Sharp, Oona Lewis, Alison Hesmer and Dwight Mitchell; an evening with watercolorists Ryan Fox and Russell Yerkes and Asheville glass artist Deb Williams on March 1 for Sparkle and Light; new works will be featured again in April; and in May, motherhood will be celebrated with Moms and Margaritas.

For information on art instruction at Barnes Corner Gallery, call Pegi Sharp at 252-235-8878 or Oona Lewis at 252-236-1055.