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US: Benson, NC – A Celebration For Farmer’s Best Friend – the Mule

The small town of Benson, North Carolina, with a population of around 3500, will swell to approximately 30,000 come September 21-24, 2017 when the 68th Annual Benson Mule Days Celebration, which honors the farmer’s best friend, the mule, is Benson Mule Days 2017-09-13_12-54-40sponsored by the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce.

This festival is filled with family fun and activities for everyone young and old. The weekend is packed with rodeos, a mule pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, street dances, carnival rides, camping, parades, bluegrass shows and more.

Friday, visitors can enjoy many events including the Mule Competitions held in the Chamber Park and Arena. They will see mule coon jumping, a mule race, Best of Show and many other events.  If you haven’t seen a mule competition this is a must see for the whole family.Benson_Mule_Days

Saturday is a big day at Benson Mule Days as thousands of spectators grapple for a place to sit or stand to observe the one of the biggest parades in North Carolina. Bands, floats, Shriner units, classic cars, antique tractors, unique entries, beauty queens, and hundreds of horses, mules, buggies, wagons make their way down Main Street of Benson beginning at 10am.

There are three rodeos of which the first begins on Friday night followed by a Saturday night and Sunday afternoon performance. A new event this year are Mule Day Dances. After the rodeos on Friday and Saturday nights, kick up your heels at the Chamber Park.Benson_Mule_Days_ Horses3

Get a complete schedule of events- here

Location: Various – see schedule
Date: Sept 21-24, 2017
Hours: Various – see schedule
Tel: 919-894-3825
bensonmuledays.com
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: johnstoncountync.org

US: Florence, SC – Play Me, I’m Yours – Brings Pianos and Music to Florence Streets

Florence - Play Me I'm Yours

Florence, SC Exit 160: No, you’re not seeing things, those randomly placed pianos throughout Florence are part of Play Me, I’m Yours, an initiative of a worldwide street piano project, geared to interconnect people in the community by “expressing themselves”  by bringing pianos to the people and music to the streets.Play Me, I'm Yours -Man

Dozens of Pianos will be located all over Florence and Lake City, and will remain available until May 7, positioned for everyone to play and enjoy on streets, in parks, squares, markets and other public places. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, participate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated and personalized by local artists and community groups, the street pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.Play Me, I'm Yours - Woman

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours was created by British artist Luke Jerram. More than 1500 pianos have now been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to Lima, bearing the simple invitation Play Me, I’m Yours. The project has already reached more than ten million people worldwide.

An opening-night festival will be held April 21 in the Willcox Plaza on West Evans Street. The event will include a dueling pianist team and a “Paint a Piano” tent for young artists. Don’t miss the featured noon concerts on various instruments by local pianists.Play Me, I'm Yours -Crowd

Location: Florence, SC
Date: Fri, April 21 – Sun, May 7, 2017
Tel: 843-260-6210
streetpianos.com/florence2017
For Regional accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: visitflo.com

 

US: Fayetteville, NC – Fascinate-U Where Children Can Be Judges, Respond to 911 Calls, Bag Groceries And Build Their Way To A Good Time

Need a fun place to entertain the little ones for a few hours? Take them to Fascinate U Children’s Museum and Amusement Center.

This children’s museum was designed to be a hands-on experifacinate-u-museumence, all scaled to the size of children,  in which they try to connect young minds to their future through interactive experiences. Children can explore their world the way they learn best-through creative role-playing, and interaction with each other and their environment.

The museum is arranged as a “mini-city” where children can pretend while learning about jobs in the community. Some of their exhibits include: the Farm, the Army Fort, the Fire Station, the Post Office, the Grocery Store and a Stage Area.

In addition, they have a toddler room specially designed for children four and under , constructed as a mini-house, where little ones can develop their cognitive skills.

This is a special place that makes learning fun.grocery-store-facinate-u-museum

Location: Fascinate U Children’s Museum, 116 Green St, Fayetteville, NC 28301
Hours: Mon: CLOSED, Tues: 9- 5, Wed: 9- 7, Thur: 9- 5, Fri: 9- 5, Sat: 10- 5, Sun: 12- 5
Tel: 910-829-9171
fascinate-u.com
For Regional Information, Restaurants & Attractions: visitfayettevillenc.com

US: Fredericksburg, VA – Gingerbread Houses, Miniature Dollhouses, and even the Grinch

Looking for some fun, family friendly entertainment this holiday season, well Fredericksburg has you covered.

Why not check out the 30th Annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibit at George Washington’s Ferry Farm . This year’s theme is “Home for the Holidays.” A long-standing holiday tradition,  adults and children alike will enjoy the sights and smells of the festive creations displayed at George Washington’s Ferry Farm.gingerbread-house-txt
Location: 268 Kings Hwy (Route 3 East) Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Dates: until Dec 30th (Closed December 24 & 25)
Hours: Mon – Sat 10am – 4pm; Sun 12pm – 4pm
Tel: 540-370-0733 x24
ferryfarm.org

Visit Historic Kenmore this holiday season for an exhibit of highly detailed, replica dollhouses – including the mansion – and miniatures in the Crowninshield Museum Building. A Wee Christmas – Dollhouses and Miniatures Show where you can  share memories as you explore life in miniature. Put your mind and eye to the test with their “I Spy Miniatures” challenge – fun for young and old alike. doll-house-exhibit
Location: 1201 Washington Ave, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Dates: until Dec 30th (Closed December 24 & 25)
Hours: Mon – Sat 10am – 4pm; Sun 12pm – 4pm
Tel: 540-373-3381
kenmore.org

And for the kid in all of us, Mr. Grinch is coming to Downtown Fredericksburg! Every Sunday in December Mr. Grinch will be available for a 15 minute ride down Caroline Street, sing some Whoville songs, admire the decorated store windows and enjoy the ride. This is a great photo opportunity and kids get a Christmas Goody Bag.grinch-carriage-ride
Location: 706 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Dates: every Sunday in December
Hours: 11 to 4pm
Tel: 540-371-0094
visitfred.com/events/mr-grinch-coming-to-downtown-fredericksburg

For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants and Attractions: visitfred.com

 

US: Concord, MA – Good Things Come in Small Packages at Dollhouse Exhibit

 Four centuries of dollhouses are on display in Concord at The Art & Mystery of the Dollhouse exhibit featuring many of the finest representations in both public and private collections. Admirers young and old will appreciate the chance to step into that intriguing miniature universe at the new presentation at the Concord Museum, on view until Jan. 15. art-of-the-dollhouse

Explore tiny worlds that capture life’s detail and the imagination through dollhouses and miniatures from the 17th through early 20th centuries show the evolution of dollhouses from treasures for wealthy adults to colorful playthings for children. This captivating exhibition explores the tiny worlds that capture life’s detail and stimulate the imagination.

Highlights include an extremely rare dollhouse from 1695, and an array of 19th- and 20th-century doll homes from The Strong National Museum of Play,  View “room dollhouses” that celebrate interior design history and play with a hands-on Hape dollhouse. There is even a celebrity doll in attendance — Melissa Shakespeare, the doll of children’s author and illustrator Tasha Tudor. art-of-the-dollhouse2

The Concord Museum will be hosting an array of special programs throughout the exhibition months includes a hands-on room box building workshop, story times with dollhouse-inspired crafts and gallery talks led by specialists in the world of miniatures.

Location: Concord Museum, 200 Lexington Road, Concord, MA 01742
Dates: Until  January 15, 2017
Hours: til December Mon–Sat, 9–5pm; Sun., 12–5pm
January Mon–Sat 11–4pm, Sun. 1–4pm                         Tel: 978-369-9763
concordmuseum.org/art-and-mystery-of-the- dollhouse.php
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions:
concordchamberofcommerce.org/visitor-information

Photo Credit: Photos by Gavin Ashworth
picture 1 – Camden House; England, dated 1838; Private Collection: This house includes all its original furnishings, including a copy of T. Goode’s miniature edition of The History of England (1837). Camden, now part of London proper, was in 1838 a suburb with housing developed for working people. The Cratchet family of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol (1843) lived in Camden. The house first came to America in 1964.

picture 2 -Georgian House; England, 1720-1730; Private Collection: This oak dollhouse on stand is in the form of an early Georgian country house. When it was owned by pioneering dollhouse collector Vivien Greene, the house included a clockwork (wind-up) ghost. The ghost intrigued the young Prince Charles when he saw the house in the first (1955) major exhibition on the subject of early dollhouses.

Canadian Museum of Nature is Museum of Fun

If you are heading out to Ottawa to enjoy our nation’s capitol, leave some time to explore the Canadian Museum of Nature. It’s the perfect place for all ages of the family to enjoy themselves. The brainy kids (or adults) can soak up extensive details about nature while the playful gang can pull levers or turn knobs in a deep sea sub, IMG_5043learn on many touch screens, or even dance around in front of  the endothermy camera checking out their colorful “hotspots”.

Everyone is awed by the the 19.8-metre blue whale skeleton in the Water Gallery but keeping going further in. All the way in the back are many interactive games for young and old alike: make believe areas for the wee ones, a board game along a wall,  animal jigsaw puzzles on touch screens, word games, etc.  

Gawk at the dinosaur fossils or walk amongst the fleshed-out dinosaur creatures for photo ops with kids. In the Vale Earth Gallery swoon over the 1200 gorgeous minerals, rocks and meteorites. Our 5 1/2-year-old couldn’t get enough of the joystick which controls a huge earth or the button to start the volcano.

Sure there’s a full size mammal gallery but the 11, 8 and 5 1/2 year-olds all stayed longer in the small Nature Live space where they oogled the cases of walking stick bugs in different camouflage colors and thicknesses. How many of you have come face to face with a tarantula? Then they listened intently as a docent showed fossils which were indigenous to Ottawa.

If you have time there are two 3D movies, “Prehistoric Planet 3D and Micro-Monsters 3D” (both too scary for the 5 1/2 -year old) but our gang liked the interactive museum more.IMG_5051

The famous Bird Gallery, with  one of the most extensive collections of Canadian birds in the world re-opened June 1. A special exhibit on now is Ultimate Dinosaurs June 11-September 5 and then upcoming is Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly, October 6-April 2 .

A brand new Arctic Gallery will be unveiled on June 23 which is set to explain how the arctic is changing, including plants, animals and people of the area plus scientific research. Outside, three new ecozones will be shown off on June 17 including a woolly mammoths and an “iceberg”.

I’d like to give a thumbs up to the friendly security guards who answered questions informatively and helped to point out nearby bathrooms and water fountains.

Canadian Museum of Nature, a Beaux Arts building, was our first national museum, completed in 1912. Trivia buffs should note that this building  served as home to Canada’s House of Commons and Senate following the fire that destroyed the Centre Block of Parliament in 1916.

Location: 240 McLeod St., Ottawa
Phone: 613-364-4021
www.nature.ca

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