Exploring the At-Home Dads Convention in Raleigh


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Jon Goguen (at left) and Josh Goguen are at-home dads who have their own popcast.

Photos courtesy of Odile Fredericks

When I heard the At-Home Dads Convention was coming to Raleigh, Oct. 7-9, I knew I wanted to be there. As a former full-time mom, I was curious about the issues that full-time fathers face, and quite frankly, sick of media stereotypes portrayed of dads — those bungling, incompetent idiots ignorant about parenting to the point where they couldn’t even change a diaper.

Who were these dads, and how did they come to forge this nontraditional path? I entered the convention hall Oct. 9 at Marbles Kids Museum with the trepidation of a woman entering an all-male club. Once inside, I was pleasantly surprised: Everyone I met was friendly and willing to talk frankly with me. According to convention organizer Austin Dowd, who greeted me, 134 men registered for the convention, but due to Hurricane Matthew and HB2 concerns, eight to 10 were no-shows, and three speakers were unable to attend.

Of the three-day event — which featured breakout sessions on various topics and keynote speakers — I chose to attend the Dad Expo, a new feature of the national convention this year, where exhibitors promoted niche areas of growing interests to dads. As I looked around the room, I saw fathers of varying ages chatting or lining up to meet exhibitors. They offered information that included divorce and coparenting, coaching kids, LGBT issues, babywearing (how to carry a baby in a scarf-like sling) and how to start your own Father's Eve (a pre-Father's Day night for dads).

I asked Dan Wilkerson, who lives in Cary, why he came. “It’s a great experience to get out with people that do the same thing I do and learn from them and from the breakout [sessions]. There’s camaraderie. They understand you.”

Wilkerson said he learned some techniques he’s planning to try out on his 5-year-old daughter to help her eat a wider variety of healthy foods. “My daughter doesn’t really have a large palate,” he said.

In another corner of the room, Josh Goguen and Jon Goguen, two brothers who are both fathers, were promoting their Dad Bros Show, a podcast live-streamed on Beam and also available on iTunes and Stitcher.

“We describe it as a guy talk show with a dad slant,” said Josh, who moved to North Carolina to be closer to family, then started the show with Jon. “We don’t talk about dads all the time. We usually start with banter and talking about something in our day, whether it’s taking the kids to the playground or pediatrician, and some of the challenges we encounter.”

The show is just “guys being guys,” Jon said. “It’s taken the shape of guys being out at a bar. We joke … We are a little more rough around the edges, a little more bravado.”

The brothers aim to turn Dad Bros into a self-sustaining business, to help dads connect with each other and their children, and to change the face of fatherhood. “Our tagline is ‘our goal is to connect fatherhood with manhood.’ Being a good father doesn’t mean you have to give up being a man,” Jon said.

In another area, people stood waiting to talk with Wes Swain, a Cary resident whose 2-year-old startup, geeksmithing.com, is built around Swain’s talent for creating things. Swain does woodworking, sculpture and painting, and his Mario Kart-themed nursery — his latest three-dimensional sculpted mural — is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a child’s room. You can view it here. Swain created the mural when his wife was expecting their daughter. “It was my nesting,” he said, smiling. “The challenge for myself was to put it on the ceiling.”

(In case you’re wondering—like me—if it can fall off, Swain said went into the attic to bolt it to the ceiling.)

A changing table Swain made and posted on online went viral with 1.1 million views, and he also has made chocolate action figures for friends, he said.  Swain gets his creative work done from 10 p.m. to midnight or 1 a.m., but he also has a podcast with three other at-home dads http://makinggeeks.com/, aptly called, “Making Geeks.” “We are geeks that are making things, but we are also making geeks,” he said, with a grin.

CharltonTrader speaks with West Swain at the Dads Expo

At the next table, Micah Adams, father to a 2- and 5-year-old, was promoting his blog, “Big Boned Biker,”  where he writes about his efforts to lose weight. Once 450 pounds, he said he has lost a total of 200 pounds, although he has regained about 80 pounds. “I started a blog for it to be a journal for myself, to look back and keep balanced,” he said. “People started reading it, and it inspired people to lose weight and it helped other people.”

Charlton Trader said he came in from Omaha, Neb., looking for training to excel at parenting his 7- and 3-year-olds. When he worked as a facilities director, he went for training, so now that he’s a full-time father, he’s also seeking training. His day these days often means working 12 to 14 hour shifts. “It gets stressful,” he said, adding that the convention was a good way to sit back and relax.

Jeffrey Taggart said it was his fifth At-Home Dad convention. “I came because I’m trying to be the best dad I can be and it is a place of complete acceptance. There’s no place like this… There are good times and support. The best thing you can do for your children is to give them and your spouse some space. I come back and I am refreshed. It really makes a difference.”

And there’s another plus, Taggart said. “One major thing my spouse gets is a weekend to see what was like. He returns to hear, I really missed you and I really appreciate what you do.”

After the Dad Expo, I caught up with cartoonist Brian Gordon, father to a 5-year-old and 8-year old, who turned to producing his own comics after getting laid off an 18-year career at Hallmark. He had come in from Kansas City, Mo. to speak at the convention and was signing his book, “Fowl Language,” which draws inspiration from his experience in parenting, for convention-goers. "What's it about?" I asked him.

"It's just kind of an honest unvarnished look at parenting," he said. "I try and give an honest look at the struggles of raising kids and make it funny and let people know the struggles they are privately facing everyone who is parenting is going through." 

You are not alone: What a comforting message. Parenting can be a lonely place even when you're surrounded by your children. Being in a community, whether moms or dads, or both, makes it so much less stressful.

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Parenting news, opinions, family fun, free offers

About This Blog

Karen Shore lives in Holly Springs with her husband and two sons. By day, she works at the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce and by night, she's a cook, chauffeur, tutor, secretary and amateur therapist for her family. She will blog about family fun in the Triangle — including freebies and news that matters to local parents. Check back here Mondays and Thursdays for her weekday and weekend fun blog posts. 

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January 2019

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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💕It's time to consign at Cary's BIGGEST Consignment sale - Voted BEST in the Triangle and Top 10 in the Nation! ✳️Register now at KidsEveryWEAR.com ✳️Read our website's consignor...

Cost: free

Where:
Cary Towne Center
1105 Walnut St
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
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Spend the afternoon helping to maintain and beautify the nature center. Ages 16 and older.

Cost: Free

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

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The Hillsborough Classic Film Society hosts a series of classic, foreign, and independent film screenings once a month on alternating third and fourth Sundays, excluding holidays. Each screening is...

Cost: 0

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Celebrate community heroes on MLK Day at Marbles. From 10am-2pm, meet real community heroes like a paramedic, teacher and police officer. Be a hero by packing food for Backpack Buddies to...

Cost: $7 ages 1 and older

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Rale, NC
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Spend the afternoon helping to maintain and beautify the area around Good Hope Farm in honor of MLK Jr. Day of Service. All ages. Volunteers age 15 and younger must be supervised by an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Good Hope Farm
1580 Morrisville Carpenter Rd.
Cary, NC
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Winter can be a fun season if you are dressed properly for outdoor activities. Bundle up and come out for some nature exploration outdoors and indoor crafts. For ages 7-12 (kids drop off program)....

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization.

Cost: $15 or use your package/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Triangle families are invited to celebrate MLK Day with a family-friendly birthday party for Dr. King with interactive activities, crafts, performances, service projects, and birthday cake in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Northgate Mall
1058 W Club Blvd, Northgate Mall, I-85 Exit 176
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: MomsRising
Telephone: 919-696-0142
Contact Name: Beth Messersmith
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Ages 5-13 enjoy a one-hour yoga class designed to strengthen and stretch the entire body, balance the nervous system, improve body awareness, encourage the development of communication and social...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Take part in a dental bash, specially created for kids on MLK Day. Enjoy a magician, face painter and lots of arts and crafts. Parents can also learn how to help their child...

Cost: Free

Where:
Leesville Dental Studio
13220 Strickland Rd, Suite 166
Raleigh, NC  27613
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Telephone: 919-238-7729
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Book Harvest hosts the Dream Big Book Drive, a community-wide celebration of diversity, literacy and books for all children. Donate new or gently used children’s book, volunteer to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Book Harvest
Telephone: (252) 497-BOOK
Contact Name: Daniele Berman
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Head out to Lake Crabtree to celebrate "Squirrel Appreciation Day" and learn all about our most commonly seen mammal. Spy on the always entertaining grey squirrels that abound in the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Did you know that the gray squirrel is North Carolina's state mammal and that field research on them took place historically at Yates Mill Pond? Join us on "Squirrel Appreciation Day” as we...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization and more.

Cost: $15/child, use your package/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt Carmel Church Rd
chapel hill, NC  27517
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Ages 11-17 create old-fashioned taffy and hard candy using ingredients like caramel, marshmallow and chocolate. Register online. Choose course #120978.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Connect with your baby, other parents and yourself during this adult-focused postpartum yoga class. Recommended for babies newborn to walking. Take a mat, a blanket for your little one, and...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East Street
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Expand your knowledge of our local flora and fauna by exploring a different area of the park each month. Join park staff as they "nerd out" over amphibians, birds, insects, spiders and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Meet other families in your community in a recreation setting. The play room will be reserved for parents and their young children. Sports and recreation equipment will be available...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
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Discover the joy of cooking with storybook characters. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online. Choose course #120080.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. Choose course #121605.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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This after-school class for kids in grades 3-5 offers fun learning yoga poses and mindfulness techniques to reduce stress. Grades 3-5. 

Cost: $15/class, or use your class pass/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt. Carmel Church Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
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Enjoy the family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person, $2 for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Enjoy the family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person, $2 for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Ages 11 and older with special needs learn fun facts about sports, music, movies and more. Register online. Choose course #121059.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Parents learn meaningful coping strategies to benefit themselves and their child. Register online. Choose course #121424.

Cost: $11/resident, $15/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Join us to read Jan Brett’s classic “The Mitten,” a whimsical story about a young boy, his white mittens, and the woodland creatures he encounters. Learn some knitting history and make your...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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More information

Join us to read Jan Brett’s classic “The Mitten,” a whimsical story about a young boy, his white mittens, and the woodland creatures he encounters. Learn some knitting history and make your...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Youth ages 8-13 find out how not to be fooled by Fool’s Gold. Learn how geologists test minerals by using properties like hardness, streak, color, luster, and acid reactivity, then...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

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Enjoy single rider snow tubing at Bond Park. Ages 5 and older. See website for 45-minute sessions. Registration required online for all sessions.

Cost: $19/person

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
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Last Fridays of the month, middle and high schoolers are invited to meet and chat about what they’ve read over snacks with the Teen Advisory Board. At each meeting, participants will vote on...

Cost: 0

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Hibernation, brumation, and estivation, oh my! Hibernation isn’t the only type of dormancy behavior and winter isn’t the only time of year animals might reduce their activity. Learn about these...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Explore Harry Potter's world with a magical craft, potions, trivia, wands and more. Ages 7-11. Register online with course #120889.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
150 Metro Park Dr.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Enjoy popcorn with a family-friendly movie while being comfy in your pajamas. Refreshments provided.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

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Enjoy fun, games, friendship and more every Friday.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

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This class is a chance for adventurous women to get together for a fun-filled workshop where we explore the basics of aerial silks. No need for a background in aerial yoga, this is a workshop...

Cost: $25

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
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Go Fort and build! Pitch your tent then curl up with a good book. Bring your blankets and a flashlight. We’ll provide the s'mores!

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Teens learn tips to improve their ACT scores. Register online. 

Cost: $129.99

Where:
Wake Technical Community College – Southern Campus
9101 Fayetteville Rd
Raleigh, NC
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Sponsor: Doorway to College Foundation
Contact Name: Kelsey Foster
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Enjoy single rider snow tubing at Bond Park. Ages 5 and older. See website for 45-minute sessions. Ages 5 and younger can take part in a parent-child snow tubing session on Saturday from...

Cost: $19/person

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The museum partners with NASA and the Raleigh Astronomy Club for Astronomy Days, an annual event that features comet crafts, solar observing, lectures, rocket launches and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Enjoy performances, authentic Chinese food and family-friendly activities. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Dorton Arena, North Carolina State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Website »

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Celebrate African-American history and culture with more than 75 musicians, storytellers, hip-hop dancers, chefs, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, re-enactors, a farmers market and more....

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Take part in an all-ages benefit event for Jordan Prince in cooperation with the Athlete Recovery Fund and Sk8 Cary.  There will be a jam from 12pm - 6pm at Sk8 Cary and after-party /...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sk8 Cary
2040 NW Maynard Rd
Cary , NC
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Sponsor: Athlete Recovery Fund - Sk8 Cary
Telephone: 919-802-6828
Contact Name: Erin Laskowich
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All ages with caregiver learn abut local birds and build a bird box to provide shelter an nesting for backyard birds. Register online. Choose course #121591.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Parents, educators, yoga teachers, counselors and others learn to teach yoga, meditation and mindfulness to teens and tweens to help them manage the stress in their lives.  These...

Cost: $60

Where:
Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Ave., Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-720-4921
Contact Name: Jen Fisher
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Learn how to successfully navigate the college search, selection and application process. Ages 12 and older with parent. Register online with course #119878.

Cost: $7/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Website »

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The Teen Advisory Board invites you to meet up with other gamers to mingle, snack, and test your skills for prizes! Guests are welcome to bring their own controllers/fightsticks. To register visit...

Cost: 0

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Join us for a fun-filled evening learning about owls. We’ll learn what makes these raptors special and what sounds different species of owls make. We’ll dissect an owl pellet and go call to the...

Cost: $4

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood

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Saturday, January 26 & Sunday, January 27, 2019 Saturday: 9:00am–5:00pm Sunday: noon–5:00pm The Museum partners with NASA and the Raleigh Astronomy Club to help you see the...

Cost: Free

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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