Celebrate the end of summer with Fayetteville festivals and trails

Fayetteville, N.C., has a long military history that dates to Colonial days.

The city near the I-95 corridor was named for the Marquis de Lafayette, Gen. George Washington’s close friend and ally who fought on the patriots’ side during the Revolutionary War. The Frenchman’s visit to his namesake city in 1825 is commemorated with a birthday celebration every September.

While it’s best known today as the home of Fort Bragg, Fayetteville was in the spotlight during the Civil War.

On April 22, 1861, North Carolina troops seized the Fayetteville Arsenal. On March 11, 1865, Confederates attacked Union forces at the Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads, but the city of Fayetteville surrendered to the Union Army that night. And, on March 15–16, 1865, 30,000 Union soldiers defeated 8,000 Confederates at the Battle of Averasboro. You can visit the battlefield and its museum in nearby Dunn, N.C.

In 1918, Fort Bragg was established as an artillery training ground. It has grown to be the largest military installation in the world, with more than 50,000 soldiers stationed there.

Festivals galore

The Airborne and Special Operations Museum at Fort Bragg celebrates the 77th anniversary of the U.S. Army’s airborne forces and the 17th anniversary of the opening of the museum Aug. 19. Featured events include a jump, static displays of current weapons and vehicles, and World War II reenactors using equipment from the period.

The museum’s exhibit gallery focuses on the history of the U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations from 1940 to the present. Before They Were Airborne, a limited-time gallery exhibit, commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Airborne Division with World War I artifacts, including a uniform worn by Cpl. Alvin C. York, a Medal of Honor winner.

In addition to its military heritage, Fayetteville has a diverse population and rich history that give it an international flavor. This is reflected in many of its fall festivals.

The 27th Greek Festival will draw thousands over the weekend of Sept. 8–10. Held at Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, it features Greek food, music, dancing, arts and crafts, and a marketplace.

With a nod to Fayetteville’s French namesake, the 10th annual Lafayette Birthday Celebration, hosted by the Museum of the Cape Fear on Sept. 8–9, features a guided tour of the Lafayette Trail, a French music concert, French wine tasting, birthday cake, and an ice cream party.

Davis Memorial Library at Methodist University will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Lafayette Collection with the unveiling of a recently donated letter from Lafayette. The ceremony will be followed by a live concert of classical and modern music by French composers at Hensdale Chapel on campus.

More than 200,000 visitors are expected to attend the 39th annual International Folk Festival, celebrating the city’s cultural diversity, the weekend of Sept. 22–24. Festivalgoers will be treated to a “trip around the world” via a Parade of Nations and an international café, plus a Fourth Friday event, music, dance, arts and crafts, and children’s activities.

If you can’t make the festival, plan to visit some of more than 30 international restaurants in Fayetteville. 

History abounds

Certainly, one of the best ways to experience Fayetteville’s diverse community and history is to visit its nine historic districts and 17 themed driving trails, which cover 750 miles around the city and surrounding Cumberland County.

The city has played a definitive role throughout the history of the country, from its settlement by Highland Scots in 1739 to its many deployments of troops to Afghanistan and Iraq today. There is a wide array of Cultural History Trails to explore, including:

-African-American Heritage Trail (13 sites)

-All-American Adventure Trail (26 sites)

-American Independence Trail (20 sites)

-Antiquing Trail (12 sites)

-Civil War Trail (28 sites)

-Fish & Game Trail (31 sites)

-Gaelic Beginnings Trail (18 sites)

-Historic Architecture Trail (29 sites)

-Historical Markers Trail (47 sites)

-International Cuisine Trail (29 sites)

-Lafayette Trail (12 sites)

-Literary Lanes Trail (20 sites)

-Paths, Plank Roads & Planes Trail (12 sites)

-Patri-Arts & Gardens Trail (60 sites)

-Patriots, Past & Present Trail (29 sites)

-Religious Freedom Trail (25 sites)

-Second-Hand Treasure Trail (39 sites)

Visit fayettevillenctrails.com to pick a trail, print maps, and watch videos of the places you want to go.

Summer’s still on in northeast N.C.

Check out the 16th annual Shrimp by the Bay event, featuring a silent auction, dinner, and entertainment, at Wharf Landing Pier in Edenton on Aug. 4. “Music by the Bay at the Penelope Barker House,” also in Edenton, continues every third Sunday afternoon through October.

The Edenton Farmers Market is held every Saturday morning through October on the Agriculture Building lawn. The 71st annual Chowan Regional Fair’s “Country Nights and Fair Lights,” Sept. 26–30 at the American Legion Fairgrounds in Edenton, features rides, entertainment, exhibits, and food.

Elizabeth City hosts a variety of events each week. Planetarium shows are held every Monday at Elizabeth City State University, Music on the Green occurs every Tuesday, and the Downtown Waterfront Market is held every Saturday. The First Friday Artwalk is held monthly, too. (discoverelizabethcity.com)

Carol Timblin accepts travel news at ctimblin@gmail.com.

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