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Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park - Wilson, NC

What the heck is a whirligig?

The first time we really took notice of a whirligig was when we visited Jack Smith Park in Cary, which has a few at the entrance to the playground area, but even then, in chasing after a toddler, I’ll admit I didn’t get the chance to read the sign that went along with the public art I was seeing. Then, based on a suggestion from one of our Instagram followers after seeing our Jack Smith Park post, we dove head first into whirligigs at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson, NC.

Vollis Simpson was a North Carolina man who made these beautiful kinetic wind sculptures, called whirligigs, from old materials like road signs and metal. He built his first whirligig out of necessity to power a washing machine when he was stationed in the Mariana Islands during World War II. He also made whirligigs for the Olympics when they were hosted in Atlanta in 1996.

While we wouldn’t say the whirligig park is large, it is possible to spend plenty of time there admiring all the beautiful details of these amazing sculptures. There are multiple tables around the park, including some under a covered pavilion, along with a small amphitheatre area where bands can play. Most of the park is uncovered, though, so bring your sunblock. We’ve also heard that the whirligigs are beautiful in the evening when the sun is setting, or even at night when it looks more like a carnival. The park is open for visitors from 5:00am to 12:00am daily.

The whirligig park was about an hour’s drive from us, so we wanted to get all we could out of this trip, and after we were done at the park, we took a walk around historic downtown Wilson. There did not seem to be a lot open there currently, which looked like it was due to a mixture of COVID-related closures and storefronts that have been vacant for some time, but we still enjoyed checking out this area and look forward to a time when we can go back and explore the small shops and eateries that downtown does have when things normalize a bit.

Let us know if you make it out to see the whirligigs and which one was your favorite!

(Note: We're currently working on updating our website with our reviews. This review was originally posted on Instagram and Facebook on July 16, 2020.)

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