Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Woodwinds & Whirligigs

Posted November 2, 2007

People ask me every week for recommendations for weekend activities. Let me make two suggestions this weekend: Cary Band Day tomorrow in Cary and Wilson’s Whirligig Festival Saturday and Sunday. One event is well established. The other is just getting out of diapers but both are tons of fun.

More than two dozen high school bands will trumpet their finest musicianship in the 49th annual Cary Band Day. The festivities begin in the morning with a parade led by meteorologist Chris Thompson of the WRAL Weather Center. Activities end late Saturday night at Cary High School with competition and an awards program. Cary Band Day is believed to be the longest running high school marching band field competition in the nation. 

The 3rd Annual Whirligig Festival in Wilson celebrates the whimsical art of native son Vollis Simpson. His wind-driven works of metal work have wowed art lovers in many states. The festival is an open-air arts and crafts event on Nash Street with bands including Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes.

Today’s questions: what are your favorite high school band memories and your thoughts on the staying power of Cary Band Days?

Also, how many of you have seen a whirligig and if so, describe the magic.


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  • whoknew35 Nov 4, 2007

    Didn't Cary Band Day use to have "Drums to Dixie" in the title? My brain seems to put those two phrases together. Anyone else remember that...or is it just me? :)

  • Cindy Nov 2, 2007

    I have fond memories of Cary Band Day. I was a Tarboro Marching Viking. I played Bass Drum, so that was a very LONG parade indeed. After marching the parade we would sort of get a time of rest before hitting the field for competition. My fondest memory was my junior year. We were in the competition and my drum head busted. Boy that made for some interesting notes from the judges. By the way we won 1st place drum line that year. (1986-1989) those were the days....

  • nclangs Nov 2, 2007

    I never participated in Cary Band Days (Probably since I went to High School in Chesapeake VA at Western Branch High), but I do have VERY happy memories of my time spent in Marching Band. I miss those times. It is nice on summer afternoons or even on a Friday night when there is a football game to be able to go outside my house and hear the faint sounds of the drums coming from Fuquay High School. It brings back soooo many memories.

  • rrgreennc Nov 2, 2007

    My high school band participated in Cary Band Day only once during my years (1981). I don't know if I'll ever forget marching in that looooooooooong parade. I played marching xylophone (back in the days when we carried mallet percussion instead of standing still - wimps) and that thing was heavy. I don't know how long that parade was, but it seemed to go on forever. In those days, the parade was mandatory and it made the day last forever. I also remember attending once while I was in college - I went with a bunch of band friends from NCSU. That was definitely a fun time.

  • Jackstraw23 Nov 2, 2007

    I have various memories of Acid Park & Cary Band day. I hail from the small town of wilson and used to make late night "trips" out to acid park to hang/or just make out with my girl friend. That is hands down the coolest thing.....I remember The first time i saw Acid Park: I was straight sober, I had heard some of my friends tellin' me about it and that is was very cool to see at night , when the wind was moving the whirley's around. My girl friend and another couple decided we would ride out and check it out. I was driving, we came to the top of the hill approaching from Wiggins Mill rd. I caught a glimpse of the top of a couple of the gigs. I almost ran off the road it scared me soooo bad. I thought it was some kind of alien craft. The biggest wheel was moving round' and a couple of the other gigs were movin'.I took the left turn and went up the road a little. We all got out of the car and hunkered down in the field across from the gigs.It was neat to see them light up from the cars

  • dentech Nov 2, 2007

    As a member of the Reidsville Sr. High Marching Band in the early 70's, I remember the trips to Cary for Band Days. It was always a fun trip. The worst part- Marching behind horses! Stephen Allen

  • spiderneb Nov 2, 2007

    Ever since I was a Child I have known Mr. Vollis. My family were just a few that were allowed to go fishing in the pond that is in front of all the windmills. The part about him actually shooting a man in the leg I dont think is true, But I do know that if you stopped in the road and walked onto his property then he would meet you out there with a gun and ask you to leave.The story about the car accident is TRUE. If you go along the dirt road that is beside his shop you can see the remains of the car in the field behind his shop, and also some have said that sometimes late at night if your traveling down that road a car will come up behind you from out of no where and follow you a ways, and then disappear as fast. Some have said that it's his son trying to protect the people that travel that road so that they dont have a fatal accident like he did.

  • cartman Nov 2, 2007

    There are actually 27 bands performing at Cary Band Day. It's a great event to attend, and bring the kids. The parade is at 10AM. The field shows start at Noon and go until 9:00PM

  • justmark Nov 2, 2007

    "I love Acid Park!!!" Anybody else ever hear he started it because a family member was killed in a car accident there and he didnt want it to happen again...thus the "park" was born? Im sure its not true...but that was the story I always the whole.."He'll shoot you if you stop close to his house" stories as well..LMAO!!!

  • 39 going on 25 Nov 2, 2007

    Yes, Bill he still makes them...many, many, many of them. LOL. The place I was referring to earlier "Acid Park" is on his land. He actually shot a man in the leg once for getting out his car to look at the "whirligigs". That's where the name came from. Apparently, people say you have to be on ac#$ to be brave enough to stop on his property to get a quick peek.




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