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

News, Fun, Deals

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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Calendar

August 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

June 30-August 12; 8:30 a.m.– 5:00 p.m. Come to Historic Yates Mill to see a new temporary exhibit, Rich in the Rare, on loan from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. This...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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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
Website »

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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Website »

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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
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Contact Name: Leslie & Jessica
Website »

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Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. 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 »

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Join staff and volunteers from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS) and Raleigh Astronomy Club (RAC) for a free skywatching...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Website »

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Examine “Shinrin-yoku," a Japanese healing technique that "takes in the forest atmosphere." Visit a natural area in the park and walk in a relaxed way to receive calming,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Contact Name: Rebecca Cope
Website »

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Squish, touch and feel your way through center-based activities to explore the senses.  Make a smelly painting and splash in a sink/float bucket. Ages 18 months-3 years with an...

Cost: $2/child

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

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Enjoy a family-friendly movie. See the website for the movie title. Showings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Website »

More information

Observe the 41st anniversary of Elvis' passing by seeing two tribute bands, Scot Bruce and The Fab Four, face off in an adrenaline-pumping musical showdown. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$65

Where:
Fletcher Opera Theater
2 E South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

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Meet a favorite princess or superhero from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Website »

More information

Learn froggy fun facts through trivia games and activities. Discover the differences and similarities between frogs and toads. All ages with adult. Registration required online. Meet...

Cost: $1/person

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

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Website »

More information

Weekly basic skills cooking class for children aged 5-10 at Whole Foods North Raleigh.  This free class meets each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and is offered by registering in advance...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Website »

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Take the family for Kids Night at Chick-Fil-A in Garner. Enjoy a free indoor playspace, face painting and balloon twisting with Mimi the Clown. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chick-Fil-A
2720 Timber Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: The MelodyMaker Entertainment
Telephone: (919)639-9328
Contact Name: Melody Scruggs
Website »

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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Read "Froggie Babies" by Suzanne Farrior and make a froggy craft. Practice jumping skills, learn to "ribbitt," and examine the differences between the frogs and toads. Ages...

Cost: $4/child

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

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See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

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

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Enjoy a Build-A-Bear activity, storytime, games and painting from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Website »

More information

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
Website »

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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic...

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
Website »

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Celebrate National Tell a Joke Day by sharing some jokes with the park community. Meet in the Exhibit Hall. Drop-in program. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Contact Name: Rebecca Cope
Website »

More information

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy an easy-paced and stroller-friendly walk along the greenway. Suggested for ages 3 and younger with parent. Register online. Choose course #219872.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2761
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 7-12 enjoy fashion and design activities from 11 a.m.-noon.; ages 13-18 enjoy the same activities from 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


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

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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

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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

Experience the the excitement of wheelchair basketball in preparations for August Madness. Whether your team is practicing for August Madness or you're looking for a fun Friday activity, all...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Campus YMCA 'Cage' Court
304 Blackwell Street
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Bridge II Sports
Telephone: 18668802742 x12
Contact Name: Katharine Doyle
Website »

More information

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

See the PG-rated movie under the stars at Booth Amphitheatre. After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother,and her friend to space in order to...

Cost: $5 ages 13 and older. Free for ages 12 and younger.

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

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Kindergarten students entering the traditional school calendar practice a lunch line, get moving at recess, hop on a school bus and more.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call the park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. All...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Young entrepreneurs, ages 6 -14, have an opportunity to sell their products or services to the general public. Participants can keep any profits from sales they make at the fair and will earn cash...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Children's Business Fair
Website »

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Enjoy a celebration of products, services and resources for families featuring local organizations focusing on education, health and wellness, safety, special needs, child care and more....

Cost: Free

Where:
JD Lewis Multipurpose Center
2245 Garner Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Sunshine Family Expos
Telephone: 813-463-2712
Contact Name: Melinda Perez

More information

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy an interactive dance story and craft time. Ages 3-7. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Graceful Expressions Dance Education
312 W. Chatham St., #103
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Graceful Expressions Dance Education
Telephone: 191-975-86003
Website »

More information

Search for snakes, salamanders, turtles and more. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn more about pollinators during this family friendly event. Sample and buy local honey and honey-based products.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family for treats, music, art and more. See a special exhibit showcasing the work of Artspace's talented young artists.

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Stop by a discovery table to learn fun about the animals that live in Crowder Pond. All ages. Registration required. The display table is located at the Upper Playground.

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Explore how bees pollinate flowers and help gardens grow. Discover how bee hives work and learn the ways that bee-keepers have historically housed and cared for their hives. All...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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
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Website »

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See the PG-rated movie "Jurassic Park," part of the City of Raleigh's Movies by Moonlight series. Also enjoy food trucks. Register online....

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park Flowers Field
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh
Telephone: 919-996-6688
Contact Name: Joseph Voska
Website »

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