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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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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October 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

More information

North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a 10k, 5k or 1-mile-fun-run to raise funds for local mental health research. Register online. The event also features food and kids' activities. Register online.

Cost: $30-$75. Free for ages 5 and younger.

Where:
The Angus Barn
9401 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy pottery demonstrations, kiln openings, raku firings, glass blowing demos, food trucks, live music, a raffle and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cedar Creek Gallery
1150 Fleming Rd.
Creedmoor, NC  27522
View map »


Website »

More information

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
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

More information

Shop antiques, crafts and art, and enjoy food trucks at this artisan and vintage market in downtown Cary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Fidelity Bank Parking Lot
100 W. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Contact Name: Leslie & Jessica
Website »

More information

Ages 5-8 embrace science and nature while developing skills and knowledge about the natural world. Register online.

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

Kids (ages 6-10) learn to identify the tracks and skulls of common animals that live in or near the preserve. Make a plaster cast of a track to take home. Weather permitting, take a hike to...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

Explore the uses of pumpkins, past and present, and study pumpkins inside and out. Paint a small pumpkin to take home. All ages. Meet at the Upper Pavilion. Registration required for all family...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music and delicious soups, breads, sandwiches and desserts from some of Chapel Hill and Carrboro's leading chefs. Unique, handcrafted bowls donated by local artists will also be...

Cost: $15-$75

Where:
Weaver Street Market Carrboro
101 E Weaver St
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: TABLE
Telephone: (919) 636-4860
Website »

More information

Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
Website »

More information

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North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

This event, designed for academic students with disabilities in grades 6-12 who are performing at or near grade level, gives attendees a chance to meet role models with disabilities who have...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver take a relaxing stroll to experience nature. Register online. 

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

Parent and child ages 2-5 water plants in the native wildflower gardens. Register online. 

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a craft fair presented by the Junior League of Raleigh. See website for hours and to purchase advance tickets.  

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

More information

In this workshop, students will observe that infographics are often used to raise awareness or sell products in social media, and are more easily searched and viewed on the Pinterest platform....

Cost: Free: students must register

Where:
Caktus Group
108 Morris St.
Ste 2
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

More information

Celebrate Raleigh's creativity under the beautiful lights and cobblestone streets of City Market. Find locally-made goods and enjoy a night filled with music and entertainment with over 30...

Cost: Free

Where:
City Market
306 Parham St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
Contact Name: Sara Buxton
Website »

More information

Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a craft fair presented by the Junior League of Raleigh. See website for hours and to purchase advance tickets.  

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Read the book by Rebecca Emberley and build your own monster out of recyclable materials. All ages with adult. Registration required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy live German music, traditional Bavarian food and fare, German cars, a "Kinder Platz" zone wiener dog races, nail-driving competitions and more. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5-$20

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Mothers and sons wear their favorite costumes at this event featuring a costume contest, games, ice cream and dancing. Ages 5-12. Register online. Choose course #116813.

Cost: $21/parent and child pair; $11 additional child

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
123 Middle Creek Park Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family to carve pumpkins and take part in a pumpkin-carving contest later that evening, Prizes awarded for scariest, funniest and most original pumpkin creation. Enjoy a video game...

Cost: Free

Where:
TheeDesign
7901 Strickland Dr.
Suite 112
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: TheeDesign
Telephone: 919-341-8901
Contact Name: Lauren Elliott
Website »

More information

Friday, October 19; 6:00–7:00 p.m. Did you know there are over 40,000 different species of spiders! Join us as we explore a few arachnids found in our park as we search out these 8-legged...

Cost: $1/Person

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850

More information

Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a walk to benefit the Triangle Festival of Hope. Proceeds benefit and support caregivers and families living with dementia in North Carolina. The event features live music, kids'...

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
810 N. First Ave.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Sponsor: Dementia Alliance of North Carolina
Telephone: 919-832-3732
Contact Name: Kacy Hall
Website »

More information

Enjoy a craft fair presented by the Junior League of Raleigh. See website for hours and to purchase advance tickets.  

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family for live entertainment, a bounce house, a costume contest, trick or treat training, princess hair braiding, face painting, music and more. The Aspen School's preschool programs...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Aspen School for Exceptional Children
1050 A NW Maynard Road
Cary, NC  27513
View map »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver take a relaxing stroll to experience nature. Register online. 

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

Step back in time with 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Preregistration encouraged. Purchase tickets at the mill. 

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Children ages 6 & un

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Children's booksellers read their favorite picture books. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

More information

Join costumed interpreters Jon and Karena Potter to learn 19th-century country dances. Drop-in program; registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy a festival celebrating work, food and harvest. This event explores the season for all people on one of North Carolina's largest plantations, through games, music, food,...

Cost: $5/person. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Hwy.
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy live German music, traditional Bavarian food and fare, German cars, a "Kinder Platz" zone wiener dog races, nail-driving competitions and more. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $5-$20

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Triangle Beagle Rescue of NC hosts Beaglefest. Enjoy vendors, food, dog-related games, a dog costume contest, swag, photos with your pup and with beagles. All leashed dogs welcome.

Cost: $10 for adults; $5 for children under 12

Where:
Sunny Acres Pet Resort
5908 US-70 BUS
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Beagle Rescue of NC
Telephone: 919 760 0025
Contact Name: Leann
Website »

More information

Learn about the history of candy at a display table. Taste penny candy and take a trip around the globe to explore the world’s favorite sugary treats. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore the vegetable patch for pumpkins, hear stories about gourd life cycle and uses, try roasted pumpkin seeds, and decorate a mini-pumpkin to take home. Ages 5-10 with adult. Register...

Cost: $9/member, $12/nonmember. Free for accompanying adult.

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Mark your calendars! Our annual Halloween event, Creepy Crabtree, will return in October! This free park wide event will investigate the darker side of nature. Join the freakish festivities,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Join us on October 20, 2018, for the Harmony Playground Gala fundraiser at the Farm at 42, 1075 Lynchburg Road,  Selma, NC, from 5 pm - 9:30 pm.  The event will benefit the first...

Cost: $100 per person

Where:
The Farm at 42
1075 Lynch Road
Selma, NC  27576
View map »


Sponsor: Clayton Community Recreational Foundation
Telephone: 919 589 2523 x707
Contact Name: Jacqui Pomales-Moody
Website »

More information

Take a walk with a park naturalist to explore the woods and fields at this special time of day.  Preregister online.

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson Nature Preserve staff
Website »

More information

Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
Website »

More information

Each year over 35,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. Interact with entomologists and other scientists so you can continue learning about the...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: BASF, Terminix, and Walmart
Contact Name: Kari Wouk
Website »

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