Spotlight

Spotlight

Events in Little Washington create charming memories along the waterfront

Posted December 21, 2019 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated January 23, 2020 2:14 p.m. EST

The idyllic atmosphere of Little Washington, coupled with modern-day amenities will make any event memorable.  (Photo Courtesy of Washington Tourism Development Authority)

This article was written for our sponsor, Washington Tourism Development Authority.

With waterfront views and unique charm, the town of Little Washington is an enticing place to host an event.

Located in Beaufort County, about 30 minutes from Greenville and two hours from Raleigh, Washington is the kind of town that has a historically captivating feel. After all, the town is named after the nation's first president. The idyllic atmosphere, coupled with modern-day amenities will make any event memorable.

That's exactly what Erin Ruyle wants for people. Ruyle, who is the director of tourism and development for the City of Washington, said she's in the business of "helping people make memories."

When asked why Washington is a great place to host an event, Ruyle simply stated, "the waterfront, the people, the culture."

Ruyle explained that whether you want to host a conference, a festival or make it your wedding destination, Washington is a laid-back, hospitable town where you'll find locals willing to help with your plans.

Washington even offers grants for organizations that lack the budget to properly publicize their events. The Washington Tourism Development Authority grant allows organizations to apply and present their event ideas to the tourism board. If approved, the city will grant the organization funds to expand the organization's outreach and help with a marketing campaign.

One of the best places to host an event in Washington is at the Turnage Theatre.

Debra Torrence, executive director for Arts of the Pamlico, noted the history of the Turnage makes it a special place to host not only large events like weddings but also smaller events like musical performances and art camps for kids.

The Arts of the Pamlico's mission is "to present a wide range of educational, entertainment and cultural programs, and to encourage the same by advancing and supporting the efforts of local artists, arts organizations and arts businesses throughout the region."

The Arts of the Pamlico hosts live theater productions put on by students of East Carolina University, as well as local children in the Bubblegum Theater, writing and acting workshops, and art classes like pottery.

It's currently housing a costume collection by Jeffery Phipps in the Turnage Theatre, where you will find a replica of an outfit worn by Vivien Leigh in "Gone with the Wind" and clothes from the personal collection of Mrs. Howell of "Gilligan's Island" fame.

Torrence said Washington is a great place to host events year-round, and "people [who host events in Washington] will feel at home in our small town with big culture."

She noted the town is hosting several of free events in December just in time for the holiday season. Both locals and visitors can enjoy the Beaufort County Choral Society Christmas Concert, a Christmas Variety Show and the Beaufort County Community Orchestra Christmas Concert.

The WTDA has also planned events for next year's spring and summer months. In her role, Ruyle is tasked with using events to capture people's attention and draw them to town for, hopefully, multiple visits.

Looking toward 2020, the town will host Sails and Ales, an event focused on local seafood cuisine, eastern North Carolina craft beer and local wineries – a unique event perfectly suited for a unique town like Washington.

Also coming in 2020:

  • March/April/May: Alive After 5. Free.
    Come listen to live music, enjoy a drink, and grab a bite from a food truck.
  • April 4: Helicopter Egg Drop. Free.
    Perhaps Washington's most unique community event, the WTDA partners with the Washington-Warren Airport to celebrate Easter by dropping 20,000 candy-filled eggs from a helicopter for children ages 12 and under to hunt. Other activities include face painting, tours of vintage aircraft and photos with the Easter Bunny. In 2019, 4,000 people came to the egg drop. You don't want to miss out on this great experience!
  • May 2: Dos de Mayo. Free.
    The WTDA sought input from those with Hispanic heritage to develop an authentic celebration to honor the history and culture of Cinco de Mayo. Enter the guacamole-making contest and enjoy music from a live mariachi band.
  • May 16: Fishing Derby. Free.
    The WTDA will stock a pond with fish and people can learn about fishing from representatives from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Bonus – if you catch a tagged fish, you win a prize!
  • June 5-6: Annual Summer Festival. Free.
    This festival put on by the Washington Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce is livening things up with the introduction of kayak races in 2020.
  • July 4: Independence Day Celebration. Free.
    Washington is the place to be for Fourth of July celebrations as the town honors its namesake and country with a celebration on the water including live music, food trucks, activities and a spectacular fireworks display.

By putting on diverse events, the hope is Washington always has something going on in town that will appeal to everyone.

"The goal is for events to become leading motivators to attract tourists to Washington," Ruyle said.

With events like a can't-find-anywhere-else helicopter egg drop, it's safe to say Washington is succeeding.

This article was written for our sponsor, Washington Tourism Development Authority.

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