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Vollis Simpson’s kinetic sculptures and the park designed to showcase the folk art garnered national recognition this week through a story in The Wall Street Journal.
“Clearly this level of exposure can only be positive,” Wilson Planning and Community Revitalization Director Kimberly Van Dyk said, noting the Journal’s millions of readers. “This kind of national publicity is invaluable, especially as people are going into a new year and making plans for spring break and summer travel.”
Van Dyk said the review of the park in the Journal comes on the heels of stories in recent years on the pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, USA Today and Southern Living magazine. Writer Peter Plagens spent several days in Wilson and complemented his review with photographs from The Wilson Times’ Drew C. Wilson and former Times photographer Gray Whitley, who now works for the Sun Journal in New Bern.Van Dyk said the article was shared through the Historic Downtown Wilson and Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park pages on Facebook, generating more than 200 people sharing the posts and 20,000 viewing the article within 24 hours.
“Many of those ‘shares’ are friends and family asking others if they would like to visit the park with them or are about making plans to visit the park,” Van Dyk said. “Just like the ripple effect of a pebble in a pond, the cumulative effect in social media of these two pages — one which has more of a local audience, and one which has more of a national and international audience — will continue to bear fruit for years to come.”Since being completed in November, the park is being incorporated in a number of annual and new events from farmers market to concerts. Van Dyk said the park is intended to be a destination for tourists as well as a park for residents to enjoy year-round.
“The broader goal for the park project was to be a catalyst which would generate economic development and drive investment in our community. Obviously, when our residents and visitors from further afield come to the park, they will want to enjoy Wilson’s other amenities,” she said. “We anticipate an increased visitation at additional local attractions and events, as well as increased sales at local restaurants, stores, hotels and hospitality venues. We encourage local businesses and organizations to think about how they can leverage this local asset for increased success.”
Executive Director Sandra Homes said the Wilson Visitors Center estimates 20,000 people visit Wilson each year, noting whether the park is the destination or a side attraction to another event like a sports tournament, “Everyone wants to see a whirligig.”To see the story in the Journal, visit tinyurl.com/yb88rtrp/.