September 30, 2014

DOUBLE YOUR EXPERIENCE ON PLEASURE ISLAND THE 21st ANNUAL SEAFOOD BLUES & JAZZ FESTIVAL PRESENTS THE ROBERT CRAY BAND & DELBERT McCLINTON


Kure Beach, NC – The air is crisp, the nights are cool and the sky is blue – Welcome to Pleasure Island in the Fall.  And there is no better way to bring in Autumn than to attend the 21st Annual Pleasure Island Seafood Blues & Jazz Festival on October 11th & 12th.  This years’ Festival brings something new and unique to the twenty-year history of this great Festival – DOUBLE HEADLINERS.  That is right, International renowned artists will headline on Saturday and Sunday this year!

First up is the legendary THE ROBERT CRAY BAND on Saturday at 8:00 pm, October 11th.  With 5 Grammy Awards, 15 nominations, millions of record sales worldwide, and thousands of sold out performances, rock blues icon Robert Cray is considered “one of the greatest guitarists of his generation.”  Rolling Stone Magazine in their April 2011 issue credits Cray with reinventing the blues with his “distinct razor sharp guitar playing” that “introduced a new generation of mainstream rock fans to the language and form of the blues” with the release of his Strong Persuader album in 1986.

Since then, Cray has gone on to record fifteen Billboard charting studio albums and has written or performed with everyone from Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan, from Bonnie Raitt to John Lee Hooker.  Recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame at the age of 57, he is one of the youngest living legends to receive the prestigious honor.  And while he can look back over an astonishing three-decade career punctuated by his trademark sound and distinct playing style, Robert Cray is too busy moving forward on an amazing journey that has him releasing his sixteenth studio album and embarking on yet another world tour.

Closing out the Festival on Sunday, October 12th, will be the first-ever repeat headliner – the incomparable DELBERT McCLINTON, with three Grammy awards to his credit.  The venerable Delbert McClinton is  a legend among Texas roots music aficionados, not only for his amazing longevity, but for his ability to combine country, blues, soul, and rock & roll as if there were no distinctions between any of them in the best time-honored Texas tradition.  A formidable harmonica player long before he recorded as a singer, McClinton’s career began in the late '50s, yet it took him nearly two decades to evolve into a bona fide solo artist.  A critics' darling and favorite of his peers, McClinton never really became a household name, but his resurgence in the '90s helped him earn more widespread respect from both the public at large and the Grammy committee.

In support of the outstanding talent offered up by THE ROBERT CRAY BAND  and DELBERT McCLINTON, the Festival will also offer other national recording acts including: 
  • Opening for THE ROBERT CRAY BAND will be SHEMEKIA COPELAND – the NEW “Queen of the Blues” (City of Chicago honor) and two-time GRAMMY Award nominee 
  • Opening for DELBERT McCLINTON will be the ever-popular DAMON FOWLER – With a hybrid blend of roots rock, blues and sacred steel, Damon has become one of the hottest young players on the Blues scene.
In Addition to these four, there will be ten other blues and jazz groups on two stages over the two-day festival brought to you by Bryant Real Estate and the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area.

The Food selection, as always, will be outstanding as well.  The amazing FREE Kidzone will be back with magicians, face painting, laser tag, educational exhibits and inflatables and much more!  You can also get a little shopping in at the many and varied vendors as well as having a glass of wine or a bottle of beer.

Tickets may be purchased through EVENTBRITE or by contacting the Chamber offices at 910-458-8434 or go to www.pleasureislandnc.org.  Tickets are just $50.00 in advance for a two-day pass.  If the event does not sell out, you can purchase tickets at the door for $60.00 for Saturday (THE ROBERT CRAY BAND plays Saturday night) and $25.00 for Sunday (DELBERT McCLINTON is the Sunday closer).  Kids 12 and under are free.  We ask that you do not bring coolers or pets, but bring your chairs, towels and blankets for a Pleasure Island style weekend.  See you there!

Besides the Pleasure Island Chamber office, locally you can buy tickets at Gravity Records and Southern Signs in Wilmington or at Island Tackle & Hardware, Carolina Beach Furniture, Silver Dollar, Bank of America and Olde Salty’s on the Boardwalk in Carolina Beach until close of business on Friday, October 10th.

For more information please call the Chamber at 910-458-8434 or email at greg@pleasureislandnc.org.  

September 27, 2014

THE ROBERT CRAY BAND & DELBERT MCCLINTON DOUBLE-HEADLINE PLEASURE ISLAND SEAFOOD, BLUES & JAZZ FESTIVAL

Kure Beach, N.C., September 24, 2014: Picture yourself this October in a serene coastal setting being entertained by cool jazz and hot blues. All this and more awaits visitors during the 21st annual Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival, October 11-12, at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area near Kure Beach. This year’s musical lineup is double the fun with two renowned blues headliners: The Robert Cray Band and Delbert McClinton. As if that’s not enough, more than a dozen more local and regional jazz and blues artists are also scheduled to perform--not to mention the seafood, vendors, and kids’ activities.

For the first time in the festival’s history, two Grammy-winning blues rock icons will share top billing. Blues sensation Robert Cray and his Band will headline on Saturday night. Texas blues/country/rock/soul legend Delbert McClinton returns for a second turn at headlining the festival on Sunday afternoon. Opening for The Robert Cray Band on Saturday is Shemekia Copeland, a two-time Grammy nominee who was proclaimed “Queen of the Blues” by the City of Chicago. Opening for Delbert McClinton on Sunday is Damon Fowler, one of the hottest young players on the blues scene with his hybrid blend of roots rock, blues and sacred steel. 

Set against a scenic backdrop of the Cape Fear River, the relaxed riverfront setting is ideal for enjoying a weekend of great jazz, blues and seafood. In addition to headliners The Robert Cray Band and Delbert McClinton, the two-day Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival (October 11-12) features 12 other musical acts, including national and regional blues bands such as: Blues World Order; Big Bump & the Stun Gunz; Justin Fox; Fatty Lumpkin and the Love Hogs; Shemekia Copeland and Damon Fowler. Jazz bands include: Lee Venters & Vermillion Sands; Lynne & The Wave; Jaime Michele & Friends; Nina Repeta, Nita B & The Swinging Soiree, and Snake Malone & The Black Cat Bone. A full performance schedule is available online at www.pleasureislandnc.org. While grooving to live music, attendees can also enjoy fine wines and savory seafood prepared by area restaurants. The Arts & Wine Garden will host crafts and wine tastings. The free Kidz Zone features magic shows, face painting, educational exhibits, inflatables, laser tags and more.

If your idea of the perfect fall weekend getaway includes great blues, jazz, and seafood on a beautiful barrier island, then make plans to attend this year’s Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival presented by Bryant Real Estate, the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce and Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area. On October 11-12, double headliners will entertain at the 21st Annual Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area, near Kure Beach.  Two-day tickets are $50 in advance. If event does not sell out, daily tickets may be purchased at the gate. Saturday only tickets are $60; Sunday only tickets are $25. Tickets are available for purchase at the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce office located at 1121 N. Lake Park Blvd. in Carolina Beach. Children 12 and under are admitted free of charge.  Gates open at 11:00 a.m. and the music begins at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Pets, coolers, videos/cameras and political materials are not permitted. The Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area is located along Hwy. 421 South in Kure Beach. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 910-458-8434. Tickets are also available for purchase online via www.eventbrite.com and www.pleasureislandnc.org/seafood-blues-and-jazz-festival.      

See where the water takes you! From the island beaches of Carolina, Kure, and Wrightsville to Wilmington’s historic river district, visitors will find great food and live music at every turn. For information on specials and packages, seasonal events and experiences in Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach, visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com.                      

September 26, 2014

Video of Carolina Beach Boardwalk Fire Prior to Arrival of Fire Department

The first video shows the fire in full force prior to the arrival of the fire department.  You do hear the sounds of approaching emergency vehicles in the background.  Video was taken by Jenn Beddoe from the Glynne's Soaps & uploaded by Gayle Tabor.

In addition to the one video, we are including some other Youtube videos that were posted by various news outlets.

We should note that the immediate area around the arcade is blocked off but the majority of the boardwalk is accessible. So if your favorite boardwalk business is normally open at this time of year, you can expect they are operating as normal.

[Related story: Carolina Beach Boardwalk Fire Photos 09/25/2014]





UPDATE
News release from the town at 8:30am on 09/26/2014:

Carolina Beach Fire Fighters responded to a call at approximately 11:15 AM September 25th for a commercial structure Fire Alarm at the Boardwalk Arcade. After several hours of fighting the blaze the Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and New Hanover County Fire Department’s were able to contain and control the fire. Three businesses on the Boardwalk were impacted by the fire; the Arcade, Frank’s Pizza and a Gift Shop associated with the Arcade. All other local Boardwalk businesses are open for business. No one was in the building at the time of the fire and no injuries have been reported. All fire fighters are safe and none were harmed during the fire.

State, County and Local Fire Marshals, the Federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other investigators have reviewed the scene but have yet to determine the cause of the fire. Property owners and tenants of the affected businesses have been contacted and the town is working closely with them on cleanup and containment.

Thank you to the men and women of the area fire departments, the Carolina Police Department and Operations Department for their dedication and protection of our community and our historic ocean boardwalk district.

September 25, 2014

Carolina Beach Boardwalk Fire Photos 09/25/2014

This morning at about 11:30am a large fire broke out in the arcade at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. The fire was contained within an hour and a half and crews are still on the scene to make sure no hotspots reignite.

Both the arcade and Frank's Pizza sustained significant damage.  At this time, the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Here are some photos taken by Paul Boroznoff, from Southern Digital Art, including a pic taken using his drone aircraft.












September 14, 2014

SAVOR COASTAL FLAVORS WITH FALL CULINARY EVENTS & TOURS

 Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival at Kure Beach
 Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival
Wilmington, N.C., September 13, 2014: Fall’s bounty brings a banquet of opportunities to savor coastal flavors with culinary events and food tours in Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville. From restaurant tastings and beer walks to oyster roasts and food festivals, there are more than a dozen flavorful happenings that showcase local cuisine and regional spirits. Three signature food events will take place the weekend of October 11-12: the 21st annual Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival near Kure Beach, the Taste of Wrightsville Beach Festival, and the Back Door Kitchen Tour in Wilmington.

A dynamic dining scene presents a full spectrum of restaurant choices to suit every budget and taste, along with a hardy serving of Southern hospitality.  The week of October 22 through 29 more than 40 area restaurants will offer special menus during the bi-annual Encore Restaurant Week, now in its 6th year.

Farmer’s markets, dinner theatre, theme cruises, and food tours are another way to spice up the season. Foodies can sign up for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours of Wilmington restaurants, bars, and the weekly farmer’s market tour/cooking class. In Carolina Beach Tasting History Tours showcase island eateries with a dash of history for group tours. With outstanding restaurants and chefs serving up fresh seafood and other regional specialties in one destination with four unique settings, visitors will discover that Wilmington and its island beaches will satisfy the palate and feed the soul.

Here’s an appetizing roundup of fall food happenings:

• Sept. 23: A Taste of the Town. Walking tour/tastings. Thalian Hall, Wilmington, www.thalianhall.org
• Sept. 27: Wilmington Wine & Beer Walk. Downtown Wilmington. http://wineandbeerwalk.com/
• Sept. 26-27: NCBS BBQ Boot Camp. Castle Hayne. www.ncbbqsociety.com
• Oct. 11-12: 21st Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival. Ft. Fisher Air Force Rec Area, Kure Beach. Seafood & blues/jazz. Robert Cray & Delbert McClinton headline. www.pleasureislandnc.org/events-details.php?id=20
•  Oct. 11: Taste of Wrightsville Beach. 5pm-8pm. Showcase of 30+ Wrightsville Beach eateries and beer/wine vendors. Marine Max, 130 Short Street, Wrightsville Beach. www.wrightsvillebeachfoundation.org
•  Oct. 12: Back Door Kitchen Tour. 9 kitchens + a garden in Downtown Wilmington. This year’s tour is dedicated to the memory of Miss Dolly Pearson. www.rowilmington.org/info.php?pnum=5
•  Oct. 17: Airlie Oyster Roast. Airlie Gardens, Wilmington. 910-798-7700; www.airliegardens.org
•  Oct. 17: Voracious Craft Beer Tasting. Shell Island Resort, Wrightsville Beach. www.lighthousebeerfestival.com
•  Oct. 17: Mellow Mushroom Movie Night in the Park. Movie “Monsters University” & gourmet pizza. Wrightsville Beach Park: www.townofwrightsvillebeach.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=4r55cwghv28%3d&tabid=149
•  Oct. 18: Lighthouse Beer Festival. Battleship Park, Wilmington. www.lighthousebeerfestival.com •  Oct. 22-29: ENCORE Restaurant Week. 40+ restaurants in Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach serve delicious meals at fixed prices. Restaurants/ menus online at www.encorerestaurantweek.com.
• Oct. 24-25: Oktoberfest. Government Center Complex, Wilmington. www.oktoberfestwilmington.com
• Oct. 24: The Vintage Event. Fine wines & cocktails, restaurants, caterers. St. Thomas Preservation Hall, Wilmington. www.historicwilmington.org/vintage-event
• Nov. 1: St. Stan’s Polish Festival. St. Stanislaus Church, Castle Hayne. www.ststanspolishfestival.org
•  Nov. 8-9: Festival Latino. Ogden Park, Wilmington. 910-341-0007. www.facebook.com/festivallatino2012 MC900322466
Ongoing - Farmer’s Markets: Carolina Beach Farmer’s Market, Carolina Beach Lake (Saturdays thru Oct. 4; http://carolinabeachfarmersmarket.com); Riverfront Farmer’s Market Downtown Wilmington (Saturdays thru Nov. 22); www.wilmingtonfarmers.com);Poplar Grove Farmer’s Market, (Weds. thru Nov. 26; www.poplargrove.org) MC900322466
•  Ongoing - Culinary Tours: Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours (www.tastecarolina.net/wilmington) & Tasting History Tours (www.tastinghistorytours.com). MC900322466[1]Ongoing - Dinner Theatre & Cruises: TheatreNOW (weekly shows), 19 S. 10th St., Wilmington, www.theatrewilmington.com & Henrietta III murder mystery cruise (Tuesdays thru October), Wilmington; www.cfrboats.com & Theme dinner cruises aboard Wilmington Water Tours, Wilmington, www.wilmingtonwatertours.net.

See where the water—and your appetite—take you! For a free official Visitors Guide, call 1-866-266-9690 or visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com. For seasonal events and special offers, visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com; www.VisitCarolinaBeachNC.com; www.VisitKureBeachNC.com; and www.VisitWrightsvilleBeachNC.com.

September 11, 2014

REDISCOVER RIVERFEST – A CELEBRATION OF HERITAGE, CULTURE & FAMILY FUN ON THE CAPE FEAR RIVER

Riverfest in Wilmington, NC
Add caption
Wilmington, N.C., September 10, 2014:  October is just around the corner and organizers of the 36th Annual Riverfest wish to invite everyone to visit Wilmington’s historic river district the weekend of October 3-5 to “Rediscover Riverfest” and experience the exciting ways in which the festival has grown and changed in recent years. With the Cape Fear River as its focus, Riverfest captures the river’s heritage, culture, and natural beauty with a schedule of events that all ages will enjoy.  

Since its humble beginnings in 1979, Wilmington’s annual Riverfest celebration has become the area’s largest fall festival. What started as a small cultural street fair to entice residents to venture Downtown now extends from the Coastline Conference & Event Center on Nutt Street all the way to Chandler’s Wharf on South Water Street. Today’s Riverfest remains true to its roots as a family-friendly, cultural festival. It now boasts a half-mile of free entertainment with more than 200 craft vendors and concessions, as well as continuous live music, fireworks, a Kidz Zone, visiting ships, pirates, competitions, and lots of exhibits and special events.

The 36th Annual Riverfest celebration begins on Friday, October 3 with a Garden Party (11am-3pm) at Greenfield Lake’s Rotary Garden, home of the world’s largest rotary wheel. Garden Party tickets ($55 each) are available online at http://greenfieldlakecollaborative.org/ and parking/shuttle service will be at Legion Stadium. At 6pm, the Riverfest concert series jumpstarts Friday evening festivities at Wilmington’s Riverfront Park in the Beer Garden. On Saturday and Sunday, a street fair winds its way through Wilmington’s historic river district with special exhibits, along with vendors selling art and handmade crafts and over 30 food vendors serving festival edibles. Continuous live entertainment is another hallmark of Riverfest with a variety of performances that underscore the influence of arts and culture on the Cape Fear lifestyle. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the Main Stage at Riverfront Park and the Beer Garden stage will showcase live bands. The Kid Zone stage also offers family entertainment. And what river celebration would be complete without pirates? The 85-foot pirate ship Liana's Ransom will offer tours (admission charge) both days from the dock behind the Hilton Wilmington Riverside (www.lianasransom.com).

Other Saturday events include: the Sun Coast Cruisers Classic Car Show (Sat., 10am-6pm, Market Street), a Standup Paddle Race (10am), and a Kids Pirate Treasure Hunt (1pm-4pm).  At 6pm, the Beer Garden music stage welcomes live bands. Returning this year is the Invasion of the Pirates Flotilla (www.invasionofthepirates.com/Flotilla.html), a lighted pirate-theme boat parade and competition at 7:20pm, followed by a dazzling display of riverside fireworks at 9pm. Sunday’s special events include the 24th Run the River 8K Race (race at 8am; registration 7am), the Great Waiter's Wine Race (2pm) and the Antique Car Show (10:30am-3pm, Market Street). New this year is a Rowing Regatta (11am) on Sunday.

There are also plenty of free family activities at the ever-popular Kidz Zone at the Cotton Exchange, such as face/hair painting, balloon art, games, amusements, arts/crafts, clowns, rides, obstacle course, mascots, live entertainment, and more. Older kids will enjoy exhibits at the Adventure Zone. Affordable event parking is available in public parking decks located at 2nd & Princess streets, at Front & Market streets; and at 2nd & Chestnut streets.  


See where the water takes you! Annual events like Riverfest afford visitors a great opportunity to experience our region’s traditions. An estimated 200,000 gather at Riverfest to celebrate the heritage, beauty, and culture of the Cape Fear River. Riverfest continues its commitment to Cape Fear Community College with an endowment that helps support its Marine Technology Program studies and environmental efforts.  For more information about Riverfest 2014, visit www.wilmingtonriverfest.com. For visitor information on Wilmington, N.C.’s Historic River District and the Island Beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com, www.visitcarolinabeachnc.com, www.visitkurebeachnc.com, and www.visitwrightsvillebeachnc.com. Visitors may also call 866-266-9690 or email visit@wilmingtonandbeaches.com to request a free Official Visitors Guide.   

September 9, 2014

2014 Round Table Discussion with the New Hanover County Commissioner Candidates


YOUR PARTICIPATION IS REQUESTED

The Pleasure Island Foundation for a Sustainable Community is proud to host a Round Table Discussion between the 2014 candidates for the New Hanover County Commission and the respective Mayors, Council and Alderpersons of Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville Beach.

It will be an open format, facilitated discussion between the candidates and elected officials that will allow for an informal ex-change of ideas, concepts and possible solutions to the issues and opportunities facing the Island Beach communities. The open format will be followed by a brief Question and Answer session from the public in attendance. The media has been invited.

Below you will find a list of bullet point topics that will form the basis of the discussion topics. While this list is comprehensive, there may be other questions not identified herein.

Light Hor D’ouerves will be served starting at 5:30pm. The Round Table Discussion will begin at 6:00pm

Date: Wednesday, September 17th 2014
Time:  6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Location: Kure Beach Community Center; 118 North 3rd Street, Kure Beach NC
Facilitator: Bruce Holsten, President, Pleasure Island Foundation

Commission Candidates
Dr. Derrick Hickey
Patricia Spear
Skip Watkins
Rob Zapple

Island Beach Representatives
Carolina Beach:
Mayor Dan Wilcox, Mayor Pro tem LeAnn Pierce, Councilman Steve Shuttleworth, Councilman Gary Doestch, Councilwoman Sarah Friede

Kure Beach 
Mayor Dean Lambeth Mayor, Pro tem Craig Bloszinsky, Commissioner Emile Swearingen, Commissioner Steve Pagley, Commissionet David Heglar

Wrightsville Beach
Mayor Bill Blair, Mayor Pro tem Darryl Mills, Alderwoman Lisa Weeks, Alderwoman Elizabeth King, Alderman Hank Miller Jr.

For additional information or questions please contact:
R. Bruce Holsten, President
Pleasure Island Foundation for a Sustainable Community
910-471-1616 (cell)
bruce@americanharbor.com


Round Table Discussion Topics
•Future County funding options and models for beach sand renourishment
•Future County funding options and models for Carolina Beach Inlet dredging
•The use of a Food & Beverage Tax, Sales Tax or Room Occupancy Tax (ROT) for beach community needs
•Current collection and appropriation of County ROT funds
•County’s proposed 2014 Public School Bond
•The County Public Transportation model as it serves the beach communities
•Allocation of County Parks and Recreation funds
•Future County economic development models that might benefit the beach communities

September 5, 2014

CELEBRATE HISTORY, ARTS & NATURE WITH SEPTEMBER EVENTS IN WILMINGTON’S HISTORIC RIVER DISTRICT

During the month of September, Wilmington, North Carolina’s vibrant historic river district will host events that pay tribute to its history, arts, and natural beauty. In addition to daily narrated history tours, cruises and perennial September events, this year an arts-centric birthday bash will commemorate 275 years since Wilmington was incorporated in 1739.

On Saturday, September 27, the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, the Arts Council of Wilmington/New Hanover County, and StarNews Media will present Wilmington’s 275th Anniversary Celebration with art and music.  From 10am until 2pm, plein air artists will line the Wilmington Riverwalk with 275 works of art available for show and sale. The art will be the result of artists capturing Wilmington’s rich history and natural beauty on canvas in the days preceding the event. Five local bands and musicians will entertain at the U.S. Coast Guard station against a backdrop that showcases the majestic Battleship North Carolina and the scenic Cape Fear River. Scheduled bands include: Stray Local (Americana), Keith Butler Trio (jazz), Nicole Thompson (jazz, pop), El Jaye Johnson (jazz, funk), and The Clams (electric rock). The Historic Wilmington Foundation will lead free guided historical tours. There will also be a giant community birthday card, a virtual time capsule, food vendors and more.

Recurring September events that embrace Downtown Wilmington’s creative culture include: 11th Annual Secret Garden Tour (Sept. 19-20); A Taste of the Town restaurant walk (Sept. 23); Fourth Friday Gallery Night walk (Sept. 26); and Battleship Alive! (Sept. 27).  September is also shining a light on the arts with theatrical, musical and dance productions in Wilmington’s historic river district at Thalian Hall, TheatreNOW, and Cape Fear Playhouse.

Visual Arts are on display each Sunday at Riverfront Park during the Historic Downtown Marketplace, featuring work by local artists and crafters. On Friday the 26th, join the monthly Fourth Friday Gallery Night Walk from 6pm until 9pm when downtown art galleries stay open late to entice with great art, live music, refreshments and artist receptions. And be sure to check out Cape Fear Museum’s exhibit “WW II: A Local Artist’s Perspective.”

Nature’s beauty is showcased during the 11th Annual Secret Garden Tour on September 19 and 20 when elegantly manicured gardens are revealed in Wilmington’s historic river district. The hidden gardens complement beautiful homes with Old Wilmington charm and are available for touring Friday and Saturday, 10am until 4pm. Tours begin at the Latimer House Museum (126 S. Third Street) and are held rain or shine. For details: 910-762-0492 or www.hslcf.org.  You can also catch daily cruises aboard Cape Fear Riverboats’ Henrietta III riverboat and Wilmington Water ToursFast Cat.

Culinary arts take center stage on September 23rd during “A Taste of the Town,” a downtown restaurant walk that benefits Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts. The event begins at 6pm at Thalian Hall where guests receive maps, then walk or ride a free trolley to participating restaurants for food, fun, and voting for their favorites. For details: www.thalianhall.org/events#. Each Saturday, there’s the Riverfront Farmer’s Market and weekly gourmet food tours led by Taste Carolina. The bi-annual Wilmington Wine & Beer Walk returns on Saturday, September 27 with spirited tastings for wine and beer enthusiasts from 1pm-6pm. For tickets and event details: www.wineandbeerwalk.com.

Performing arts include theatrical productions at Thalian Hall (“Into the Woods” & “Peter Pan”); Hannah Block Historic USO (“The Music Man”); and TheatreNOW (“The Bard’s Broads” & “Rude B*s Make Me Tired”); Cape Fear Playhouse (“Hermit of Fort Fisher”) as well as musical performances at Bellamy Mansion (Liz Pena jazz), Brooklyn Arts Center (Marc Broussard), and Battleship Park (California Roots Session - Reggae). The Forward Motion Dance Company will also present their annual show featuring the N.C. Guitar Quartet at Thalian Hall (Sept. 12-13). 

See where the water takes you! Downtown Wilmington’s historic river district offers more than 200 shops, restaurants, attractions, galleries, museums, tours, cruises and theaters, all within easy walking distance. Just minutes away, the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach offer three unique coastal settings and three distinct experiences. For a free Visitors Guide, call 1-866-266-9690, visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com for an Event Calendar, or email visit@wilmingtonandbeaches.com.         

September 4, 2014

FALL NATURE HIKES & CRUISES REVEAL COASTAL WONDERS

Labor Day may be over, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops in Wilmington and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. Visitors who love being outdoors and whose favorite fall colors are shades of blue and green are in luck. One of the best ways to experience fall on the coast is to participate in a nature hike or cruise. Did you know that alligators, bobcats, black bear, river otters, and rare birds can be found in the wilderness in Wilmington and its island beaches? And that common migratory bird species that nest along our beaches include brown pelican, terns, gulls, willets, American oystercatcher, herons, and black skimmers? Did you know that Venus flytrap grows in the wild only within a 60-100 mile radius of Wilmington? You can see these and other carnivorous plants in their native habitat at Carolina Beach State Park, at the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden, and on Masonboro Island. From the river to the sea, there are many opportunities to explore the coast’s natural wonders, including nature hikes and birding tours at state and municipal parks, bird sanctuaries, botanical gardens and estuarine research reserves. Nature cruises along Wilmington’s scenic rivers and coastal waterways reveal an abundance of wildlife and beautiful scenery.

Cape Fear Riverboats: Black River Nature Cruise. Wilmington’s original 4-hour Black River cruise offers narrated plant and wildlife interpretation by coastal ecologist and author Andy Wood. Cruisers aboard the Captain J.N. Maffitt will experience the tranquility, breathtaking scenery, and amazing wildlife along the northwest Cape Fear River and the wilds of the Black River. Just minutes after leaving the dock, the river appears almost as it did to early explorers—rich, dark waters surrounded by moss-draped cypresses and other ancient trees. Wildlife may include alligators, snakes, bobcats, river otters, black bear, deer, fox, rare species of fish and neo-tropical songbirds. Cruises board on September 3, 17 and 20; October 8 and 29 at 9:30 a.m. at the Battleship North Carolina dock. Cruises may be added; group charters available. Limited seating; pre-paid reservations required. For reservations and information about this and other cruises, contact Cape Fear Riverboats at 800-676-0162 or 910-343-1611 or www.cfrboats.com.  

Wilmington Water Tours: Black Water Adventure Cruise/Autumn Escape. Board the Wilmington, a state-of-the-art catamaran, for a memorable fall nature cruise. This is among the captain’s favorite trips! The Cape Fear River and the other “black rivers” that converge in Wilmington, N.C. have a long, rich history. Each Thursday, Friday and Saturday from now through October, two-hour nature cruises will feature birds, wildlife, changing leaves, local history, and river ecology. Cruises depart from the Wilmington Riverwalk, 212 S. Water Street (between Orange & Ann sts.). For reservations, tour calendar, and more information about this and other cruises, contact Wilmington Water Tours at 910-338-3134 or www.wilmingtonwatertours.net.    

Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours & Cruises: Eco-Tours. Join Captain Joe, the Cape Fear Naturalist, for a cruise and guided tour of Masonboro Island, a North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve. Morning and afternoon eco-tours aboard the M/V Shamrock (a 27-foot motorized catamaran) cruise to Masonboro Island, a pristine, undeveloped 8 ½-mile barrier island just south of Wrightsville Beach. Captain Joe and crew will transport you to this ecological jewel and its miles of unspoiled beaches. Special fall birding, fishing, shelling tours also available. Departs across from the Blockade Runner Resort (275 Waynick Blvd., Wrightsville Beach). For reservations or details about this and other tours, contact Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours & Cruises at 910-200-4002 or www.wrightsvillebeachscenictours.com.    

Guided nature hikes are available at Carolina Beach State Park (weekend carnivorous plant hikes: www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/cabe/events.php); Halyburton Park (bird/nature hikes: www.halyburtonpark.com);  Airlie Gardens (2nd Wed. bird hikes: http://airliegardens.org/events-news/calendar); Greenfield Lake (iPod nature tours: www.capefearriverwatch.org/education/greenfield-lake); N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher (salt marsh exploration & canoe trips to Zeke’s Island: www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher); Fort Fisher State Recreation Area (Basin Trail hikes: www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/fofi/activities.php); N.C. Coastal Federation (birding: www.nccoast.org); and Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours (explore Masonboro Island: www.wrightsvillebeachscenictours.com). For additional outfitters that offer individual and group tours: www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/things-to-do.

See where the water takes you! From Wilmington’s historic river district to the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach, there are plenty of outdoor adventures in store. For seasonal events and special offers, visit www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/seasonal-page. For free visitor information and a complete calendar of events, visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com, call 866-266-9690, or email visit@wilmingtonandbeaches.com.       
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