Whirligig Festival spins success for downtown

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Attendees of the N.C. Whirligig Festival not only got to appreciate the unique folk art this weekend, a new activity allowed kids of all ages to build Lego versions of the kinetic sculptures.

“It was great to see the kids getting involved in the crafts, but I gained more understanding of how whirligigs work,” said Sherrie Lee Allen. “It is really difficult, and I failed a bit.”

Brick Scholars paired up with the city of Wilson and Greenlight Community Broadband to get folks to build whirligig creations with Legos from the base on up to the spinner. Brick Scholars founder and CEO Megan Oteri said more than 200 kids and adults alike put their imagination to work between the two days with each whirligig as unique as the people who put them together.

“I could speak all day long about whirligigs, but when they make these, they get to figure out the science on their own,” Oteri said. “Brick Scholars is about creativity and innovation while giving children center stage in their education.”

Allen said she had such a good time at the festival on Saturday, she talked several other friends and neighbors into returning to the packed Nash Street festival on Sunday.

“I was excited to get out and have fun while enjoying the great weather,” she said. “This is a great time before the holidays come and everyone gets real busy.”Festival coordinator Theresa Mathis estimated Saturday’s crowd at more than 30,000 people with several social media posts shattering records and some vendors selling out before Saturday’s festivities wrapped up.

“Everyone has been happy to see more and more vendors carrying whirligig-inspired goods,” said Susan Kellum, downtown marketing and communications coordinator. “Jesse Jones sold out of his recycled can whirligigs yesterday saying he had no idea how much people love their whirligigs here.”

Whirly-bird craftsman Worth Narron of Middlesex said this year’s festival was his first time to not only attend, but also to sell his wares. He said he appreciated how the festival highlighted historic downtown Wilson as well as the city as a whole. Kellum said many festival newbies and veterans inquired about relocating downtown for business or residential purposes.

“For historic downtown Wilson, this has been a trifecta weekend,” Kellum said. “The festival has been vibrant and extremely well attended while also timing with the openings of 217 Brew Works and Bill’s Grill. We couldn’t be more excited.”

Mathis said the gorgeous weather contributed to the highest attendance ever at the festival, adding that “sunshine makes all the difference with outdoor festivals.”

“It is hard to pick the most popular area because we have such a variety of activities that speak to different folks,” she said. “From the drones to the Whirli-Kidz Zone to the bands, there really was something for everyone, and all the areas were packed.”

bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com | 265-7821