By Laurie Paolicelli
Spring is here, finally, which means many things: locals, having hibernated for winter, cautiously begin exploring and smiling again. We become a town of walkers, perambulating beneath the murals and the shadows cast by the oaks and the elms and the maples, which are sporting, at long last, leaves.
We go al fresco
Spring in Orange County! Restaurants and cafes spill out onto the streets, shops open their windows, and rooftops dust off their fairy lights. Says Gabe Barker, owner of the popular Mercato Pizzeria and Restaurant in Carrboro: “The first couple farmers’ markets where spring starts to show itself always fill me with joy. Even the smallest things, like the return of local salad greens, let me know the season of fresh, crunchy veggies is upon us. I also love the longer days of sun, the way that people respond to those 70-degree nights brings a definite mood change to my staff and our guests.”
Matt Gladdek, Executive Director, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, waxes on. “Spring creates a sense of change and possibility in our community. It is palpable in the spirit of our downtown.” Orange County lifted its mask mandate on Monday, March 7 and that includes Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In spring, family events proliferate like dandelions, and Hillsborough is the home of many. The Last Friday Art Walk 2022 occurs on the last Friday of each month, March – November 2022, from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM. The annual Tarheel Antiques Festival takes place on March 26 at The Barn at Lloyd’s Dairy Farm, 226 North Lloyd’s Dairy Road just north of Hillsborough in Efland. It is an entire weekend of antiques, vendor booths, appraisals, and onsite auctions.
Families looking for an educational outing can now do so at the Orange County Historical Museum. Visit their new Kids’ Space with hands-on activities designed for children ages 3-7. The museum’s new family gallery will open on March 27 with a special reading at 2:00 PM by Victoria Pherribo Mattison of the museum’s picture book, “Minnie Finds a Home.”
Hillsborough’s legendary Handmade Parade, Handmade Market is back as a curated, community art show, and it takes place Saturday, April 30, 2022, from noon – 7:00 PM, in River Park. Handmade Market will be an all-day market, visible to traffic along Churton Street.
There is nothing lovelier than a tree.
Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough all have been designated as Tree Cities USA, meaning, among other standards, that they spend at least $2 per capita for the planting and care of trees – and, of course, an official celebration of Arbor Day.
The most famous tree in town is the Davie Poplar, a large tulip poplar tree located in McCorkle Place on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Named in honor of Revolutionary War general and university founder William Richardson Davie, the tree is 300 to 375 years old.
This year, the Chapel Hill Garden Club presents its 2022 Tour, Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24, highlighting six beautiful private gardens and the North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG). The gardens, ranging from historic to modern, personal to campus, mountaintop to lakeside, have been thoughtfully created by enthusiastic, visionary gardeners with diverse properties and points of view. https://chapelhillgardenclub.net/2020-tour-home-page
Longer days and warmer temperatures mean it is time to get outdoors! There are so many trails weaving through Orange County it would take forever and a day to list them all. But here are a few of the finest: https://www.visitchapelhill.org/blog/post/take-a-hike-11-trails-to-explore-this-spring
From Occoneechee Mountain to Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Carolina North Forest to the Poet’s Walk, your legs will wear out before your soul is sated.
And mark your calendar. The annual spring wildflower hike at Moorefields Hillsborough is scheduled for Saturday, April 10. The hike explores the ridges and bottomlands proximate to Seven Mile Creek, one of Orange County’s most significant and undisturbed natural areas. The hike leader is Milo Pyne, an N.C. State-trained botanist and an expert on Piedmont wildflowers. The hike leaves Moorefields at 10:00 AM.
The annual Introduction to Identifying Birds, or “Birding 101”, will be conducted on Saturday, May 7. www.moorefields.org
The baseballs are flying
Last, but not least, spring is the beginning of baseball season. The North Carolina Tar Heels baseball team represents the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in NCAA Division I college baseball. The Tar Heels play their home games on campus at Boshamer Stadium and are currently coached by Scott Forbes. For ticket information: https://goheels.com/sports/baseball
Other Reasons Why We Love Spring
Spring in Orange County. There is no end to its splendor. Think of it:
Farmers Markets: https://triangleonthecheap.com/farmers-markets
Eno Arts Mill: https://artsorange.org/enomill
Cat’s Cradle: https://catscradle.com
Burwell School: https://www.burwellschool.org
And at the top of our list: you, in a hammock tied to the branches of two white oaks, swaying in a gentle breeze, sipping on a glass of chilled iced tea, just moments away from an upcoming nap. www.visitchapelhill.org for details.
Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.