Strange Carnivals

With summer approaching and the weather finally getting nice, it’s natural to start looking for outdoor activities to occupy your free time. Although visiting parks and zoos can be nice, nothing really gives you a true feel for the town you’re living in or visiting quite like attending their local festival does. Throughout the United States and across the world, there are many different festivals celebrating a wide variety of different things. Keep reading for more information on some of the strangest and most interesting ones!

Eeyore’s Birthday Party

Each year in Austin, Texas, people of all ages come together to celebrate Winnie the Pooh’s best friend. People dress up as the gloomy, yet lovable character and enjoy drum circles, live music, face painting, belly dancing, and pictures with Eeyore himself! The celebration is free to get into, and all proceeds go to local charities. You’re never too old to be a kid!

Slug Fest

Held at the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park outside of Eatonville, Washington, this annual event is a weekend dedicated to celebrating the banana slug. There are human slug races, slug observations, arts and crafts, and other activities for children. As the second-largest species of slug in the world and an important part of the Pacific Northwest ecology, this event offers valuable information for people of all ages.

National Hollerin’ Contest

Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina has hosted this epic competition ever year since 1969. Originally founded in order to save the endangered form of communication from extinction, the event now includes live music and a barbecue cook-off. The event also offers antique farm equipment displays and demonstrations, living history exhibits, and a classic car show.

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival

The greatest draw for this annual event, held in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, is the Cow Chip Throw. Cow chips, in case you didn’t know, are dried pieces of cow dung. Approximately 40,000 people turn out each year to watch the competition and enjoy the cow chip parade, crafts, food and drinks. Local businesses are even allowed to register as a team for the Corporate Throw. What a great way to bond with your coworkers!

Interstate Mullet Toss

Traditionally held on the last weekend of April, this event brings thousands of visitors to the Gulf Coast every year for the chance to toss a mullet fish over the Alabama/Florida state line. The festival is held on the beach and hosted by the famous oyster bar and music venue the Flora-bama. There is also a triathlon, golf contest, live music, food, and tons of beach games. This is one celebration that is sure to be a party.

Whether you’d rather attend a more traditional state fair or one of the stranger events mentioned above, there is certainly the perfect festival somewhere in the United States for you and your family. There’s no better way to pass a warm summer weekend than outside sharing a new experience with the people you care about.

Aquitaine, France Festivals – 11 Great Festivals In Aquitaine

With its Celtic influence, unique architecture and stylish resorts, the region of Aquitaine and its departments have endless attractions to offer. From spectacular golf courses to famous art, from wine tasting to a huge range of outdoor activities..

But let’s not forget that it has some great festivals and celebrations. Let’s check some of them out.

Here are some of the most famous festivals in Aquitaine, France (please note that we have tried to get the most accurate dates available, however this is subject to the information supplied on the websites concerned)

1. Bayonne Carnival – Town Centre, Avenue du Maréchal-Leclerc, 17th -18th February 2013
This carnival is led by cute nursery school kids, as they proudly parade through the streets. Full of fun and attractions for all the family, enjoy music, face painting, workshops, colourful parades and more during the two carnival days.

2. Carnival on Two River Banks – Garonne River, Bordeaux, 4th March 2013
Every year the Bordeaux Carnival takes on a different theme, but one thing stays the same every year, it is a great chance to party, fun for families and a time to get dressed up. If you have children with you, there are plenty of activities and parades for them, plus the carnival includes aperitifs, workshops and shows.

3. International Festival of Religious Music, Lourdes, 15th to 31st March 2013
This takes place in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, on Avenue Monsignuer-Théas. Groups from all over France as well as abroad come to perform classical religious and sacred music.

4. Agen Carnival – Town Centre, Re André Gide, 31st March to 1st April 2013
Welcoming in springtime, this is a chance to dress up and enjoy the festivities on the streets. It is a family friendly affair, so if you have children with you, they should love it too. It finishes up on Pancake Tuesday when the Mr. Carnival (Monsieur Carnaval) effigy is paraded down the streets and then burnt.

5. Gastronomic Feast, Sarlat, Dordogne, 17th to 18th May 2012 (awaiting for 2013)
-Les Journées du Terroir
This is two days of pure and utter foodie-ness! Taste superb local produce such as nuts, truffles, pork products and much more.

It is also a perfect chance to learn how to do interesting tasks like pressing walnut oils, preparing jam or carving a goose. You can return home with some new skills!

There are also workshops for the children, plus they can see the farm animals.

6. Biarritz Arts Festival – Avenue Edouard VII, 2nd to 5th June 2013
Let the fun begin as the artistic performers take over the city of Biarritz! With creativity oozing all over the city, you can enjoy jugglers, dancers, actors, musicians and lots more.

7. Biarritz Oceans Festival – Avenue Edouard VII, 16th June to 23rd June 2013
If you feel up to it you can swim across Biarritz as part of this festival! But apart from that, there are heaps of activities during this festival. Check out street theatre, open air films, lots of entertainment, including Basque music!

8. Bordeaux Wine Festival – (dates to be confirmed) 28th June 2014 to 1st July 2014
If you are visiting Aquitaine and you have a deep sense of liking for wines, then this festival should never be left out of your itinerary. Bordeaux Wine Festival has not surprisingly become famous for wine lovers from France and those coming from other countries. Join another 300,000 or so visitors for this huge celebration on the banks of the Garonne.

You need to get the pass for tasting, as this opens up the possibility to choose from around 400,000 different wine samples and you can even be initiated in the art of wine tasting, not just the old “knock it back” tasting method!

When night falls, enjoy absolutely superb fireworks.

9. Bay of Arcachon Oyster Festival – June, July and August
As the name suggests, this is the festival for oyster lovers or for curious tourists who may be on the look out for an aphrodisiac!

The oysters are fabulous, and the bay has its fair share of lovely charming fishing villages. At last count we reckon that there is over 50 miles of pristine beaches in this area.

This famous export is celebrated from the months of June to August. Indulge yourself to this healthy and scrumptious seafood, meet the oyster growers and when the tide permits, visit oyster beds.

10. The 7eme Festival de Jazz de Sanguinet – 25th to 28th July 2013
A famous festival held in Sanguinet, it presents a spectacular concert from jazz musicians from different parts of the globe. It usually happens during the last week of July and features different types of jazz music including African jazz, swing and blues.

11. Bergerac Summer Music Festival – Awaiting dates (normally end July to mid August)
A big and beautiful music event, as visitors can enjoy music in castles, country houses and abbeys of this area. Featuring concerts and performances across a range of musical genres such as rock, classical, jazz and funk – it has grown to be one of Europe’s most important music festivals.

Life is good–no ice on the lakes and we're one week from opening day!

Although I’ve probably jinxed us with the blog post title, we’re one week away from the opening of the City lakes, Lake Michie and Little River Lake.  If you’ve not been to these wonderful natural areas, it’s time to come see what you’ve been missing.  We spent yesterday at Little River Lake (bundled up, as you can see), which is located on Orange Factory Rd. in northern Durham, readying the facility for the big day.  We move the large and heavy jon boats down to the water, load-test the trolling motor batteries (Steve is holding a load-tester in the picture above) to make sure they have sufficient charge to propel a jon boat for an afternoon, conduct an inventory of equipment and otherwise spruce up the area for next week’s customers.  For more information about our lakes, you may go to this link: http://durhamnc.gov/ich/op/prd/Pages/City-Lakes.aspx

Lakes Season Opening: Whitecaps on the Lake, Large Mouth Bass and First Catches

Well, I think we all can admit we hoped for better weather for the season opening party at Lake Michie this past Sunday.  The winds were insane, whipping the lake into a fury of whitecaps, but about 45 hardy people turned out for what ended up to be a surprisingly good fishing day. The gentlemen below surprised us with a great catch, and one young man caught his first fish.  All in all, a success for such a wind-blown, chilly day! Perhaps, now that spring appears to have actually “sprung”, you’ll venture out to the City lakes, rent a canoe, kayak or jon boat, borrow some of our loaner fishing equipment and try out the fishing at Lake Michie or Little River.

Kayak Masonboro Island May 3

We just finished our scouting trip to Wilmington to find the best spot for kayaking on our May 3 Surf and Seafood trip, and we think that Masonboro Island is going to be an amazing trip.  It’s a barrier island that is home to a huge variety of wildlife and has beautiful beaches we can stop at and play in the surf.  Here’s a link to the NC Coastal Reserve page description of the area: http://www.nccoastalreserve.net/web/crp/masonboro-island.  We have five spots left on the trip; we provide the boats, transportation, pfd’s and guide service, all you have to do is register.  The link to online registration is located on the right-hand side of the blog, or you may call us at 919-560-4405 to find the nearest DPR location to go in person.
A few images of Masonboro Island to fuel your beach-bound brain:

Bikers and Runners: A little slice of car-free heaven on the new ATT section

As an avid cyclist, I’m ecstatic about the completion of the bridge and the upgrades to the ATT into Chatham and Wake counties.  I’ve popped a few tires south of Herndon Park in the past, which is a general risk of riding on rough trail, but I’m happy to have smooth, car-free pavement to ride on.  Easy parking is located in the Harris Teeter shopping center on Hwy 54 or by Southpoint Crossings shopping center (a map can be found here:  http://www.triangletrails.org/pdfs/ATT_map-6-10_3-4.pdf), you’ll progress quickly past one of the elevated views of Durham county and through fairly thriving wetlands with beaver dams and turtle “beaches”, logs with dozens of turtles soaking up the warmth of the sun. 
 
The pictures below show much better than I could describe, this wide, tree-lined bike trail. From the parking area to the New Hope Rd. parking area was just over 7.5 miles of fairly flat riding through NC Wildlife lands.  The trail changes from asphalt to fine gravel at the Wake County line, but riding a road bike on the trail proved easy enough.  Trail maps are at every road crossing, and there is a bathroom and water fountain at Herndon Park, and a water fountain again near the O’Kelly Chapel Rd. crossing.  You’re kind of on your own for snacks, so pack well.


Using an app like Map My Ride will give you a good gauge of the ride–a map of the area, distance traveled, direction and elevation changes.



Parking area at New Hope Road trailhead
Urban wildlife–a turtle beach in a small wetlands near the mall

Finishing with the “whoopee” ride over I-40

It's that time again! Eno Discovery and Adventure Camp Registration

The brief, restful shoulder season for us is coming to a close and we’re off and running toward summer camp.  Registration for both our Adventure Camp and Eno Discovery Camps begins Monday, March 16, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. You may register online at www.DPRPlaymore.org and follow the links to registration, go to one of our centers or the main office at 400 Cleveland Street.  NOTE: To register on line, you must have a PIN number prior to that day, so if you plan to register online go to the website sometime in the near future, set up your account and request a PIN.

In the meantime, until summer is here, let’s enjoy some images from warmer times, shall we?

Intern Andre, aka  “the bendable brick”, introduces a child to canoeing

The gauntlet at the Discovery Course

Hiking at Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee

Sliding at Upper Creek Falls

Ready to cave at Worley’s Cave in Bluff City, TN

Three Very Cool Events for Durham’s Nature Lovers in March and April!

Here are three great opportunities to get in touch with your inner naturalist/scientist this March and April right here in Durham!

 

Charge Ahead DurhamDate: Right Now!

Charge Ahead Durham has made it easy and fun to take actions in your everyday life to save energy and water, keep our environment clean, reduce waste, and get more connected to this beautiful place we call home.  Along the way, you will save money, reduce some stress, learn some things, and have the chance to win some awesome prizes, like one of these supercool t-shirts. Go to www.ChargeAheadDurham.org to sign up and Charge Ahead!

 

 

Creek Week  March 15-22, 2014

Creek Week provides opportunities for Durham residents to discover and explore local streams and lakes through educational programs, recreational activities and protect waterways through volunteer projects. There are many event listed on the Creek Week website, http://keepdurhambeautiful.org/our-events/durham-creek-week-events/ to keep you busy.
We’re sponsoring the  Lake Michie Canoe Cleanup on Monday, March 17, 2-4 p.m.  Durham Parks and Recreation will provide canoes and cleanup supplies to help keep Durham’s primary reservoir in pristine shape. This cleanup is for ages 13 and up, contact Ryan Sailstad at 919-560-4405 or
ryan.sailstad@durhamnc.gov for more information or to volunteer.

 

The NC Science Festival March 28- April 13, 2014

The NC Science Festival is a multi-day celebration showcasing science and technology. The Festival highlights the educational, cultural and financial impact of science in our state. Durham folks can join us at Star Watch ,Friday, April, 4 from 8:30 p.m.-10 p.m. at Old North Durham Park (310 W. Geer St.). The program is sponsored by Durham Parks and Recreation, North Carolina Central University and the NC Science Festival.  We’ll gaze at the stars with high-powered telescopes and knowledgeable staff to create an enjoyable evening of exploring the night sky.  For all ages, children must be accompanied by an adult.  And did we mention that it’s free?

Take a Kid Outside with DPR Outdoor Recreation

Ok, so last week got away from us with the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Assocation (NCRPA) conference in Wilmington and we missed most of Take a Kid Outside week Sept. 24-30, but might I suggest we in Durham celebrate Take a Kid Outside Month?  We have some great opportunities in October from Lunar Exploration to our Urban Wild programs.  On Oct. 3 in Old North Durham Park (behind Central Park School on Foster Street), we have our Lunar Exploration from 7:30pm–9:30pm.  We’ll have numerous telescopes through which to view the 3/4 moon and it’s features and knowledgeable and approachable staff to help guide you through the night sky. 

Another great event for getting children outside is our Campout! Carolina Jamboree at West Point on the Eno Park in Durham, Oct. 11-12.  This is such a glorious event filled with families taking in the fall air with our friends from the Piedmont Wildlife Center and the Eno River Association. What makes urban camping a great experience?  Well, if it’s your first time, you’re close to home in familiar surroundings with friendly, capable staff willing to teach you the ropes.  If you’re nervous about your capabilities, we can help.  If you don’t have equipment, we’ll get you set up with what you need to have a fun, comfortable evening in our crown jewel park, West Point on the Eno.



Storytelling by the campfire

Doing Good in the Neighborhood, Creek Week Style

Did you have a chance to help out with Creek Week last week?  We certainly hope so, because it’s a tremendous service to the Durham community. The rain was a bit of a downer since it forced us to postpone our Lake Michie cleanup event and, sadly, quite a few volunteers were unable to join us on Thursday.   Luckily, volunteers Gary Bowles and Jasmine Ward (pictured below between Steve and Ryan) were available to help us clean a cove on the lake. It was quite amazing how much trash we collected from a very small area of the banks of this beautiful lake, as you can see in the images below.  The harsh winter and the heavy rains have washed quite a bit of refuse down the Flat River and to the lake’s banks. It’s great to have help to keep this natural area clean and thriving!