Groundbreaking Friday at whirligig park

Ceremony held for farmers market shelter

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A groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate future construction of a farmers market shelter at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park will be held at noon Friday.

The event, hosted by the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum, is open to the public and will include visits from state and national leaders.

Randy Gore, state director of rural development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Susan Barnes from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, will be speaking during the ceremony.

The 4,000-square-foot Farmers Market Shelter is being funded by a $160,000 N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund grant, a $100,000 USDA grant, and $12,000 in local donations.

“This new shelter at the whirligig park will place farmers and their customers in a beautiful setting as well as providing protection from sun and rain,” said Jenny Moore, executive director, Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum.

Also involved in the ceremony are Mayor Bruce Rose; Henry Walston, chair of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park board of directors; Reginald Speight, district director in the Office of Congressman G.K. Butterfield; and Rep. Susan Martin, R-Wilson.

The groundbreaking is planned from noon until 1 p.m., at the whirligig park. The shelter will be constructed along South Street. Construction is expected in May, the shelter should be complete in August and available for use during the 2017 season, Moore said.

Designed by Jay Hood of Hood/Herring Architecture of Wilson, the structure references the design of the tobacco auction houses that once populated the downtown area.

The multi-purpose shelter will also be used for craft markets, special events and educational programs.

The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project began in 2010 as a partnership between Wilson Downtown Properties, City of Wilson, Wilson Downtown Development Corp. and the North Carolina Arts Council.

The project is developing a world-class public sculpture park that will be a catalyst for economic development, a year-round tourist destination, and will provide innovative educational programs integrating science, the arts, and the history of eastern North Carolina.

The park will display the work of folk artist Vollis Simpson, who hand-crafted one-of-a-kind, giant windmills near his home in Lucama. Originally displayed in Simpson’s pasture, the artist reached an agreement with whirligig park organizers allowing 31 of his whirligigs to be displayed in the park.

The park will be fully developed and is planned to be completed in July 2017, Moore said.

rochelle@wilsontimes.com | 265-7818