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NATURALLY REVIVED: Spring is in the air! Gardens will blossoming as the city comes alive with a host of events, including the Herb and Garden Fair at Poplar Grove March 26-27. Courtesy photo.

Spring is starting to take effect, as evident from the budding trees, singing birds and people are blowing their noses from killer allergies. The weather is getting warmer and outdoor activities are finding their place again. Soon the streets will be bustling with people eager to take part in spring’s many happenings.

Luckily, the flowers are not the only thing in bloom. Wilmington is burgeoning with various events throughout the next few months offering a taste—literally and figuratively—in entertainment, food and fun. From concerts to theatre productions, festivals to the coveted Encore Restaurant Week, the calendar is packed full.

In the next few months, here are a some events we think everyone should mark on their calendars!

Encore Restaurant Week
March 23rd – 30th
Various restaurants all over town
Hear those stomachs growling? It’s no wonder because Encore Restaurant Week is back and bigger than ever! Nearly 40 restaurants are participating in the most delicious week of spring.

Diners will enjoy discounted prix-fixe lunches and dinners across the city from March 23rd through the 30th. Palates are covered fully, as ERW features all sorts of styles, from French to Italian, fondue to seafood, tapas to dinner for two. Budgets will be safe, too, as folks can get a casual lunch for as little as $5.99 or five-star-quality culinary bliss for $35 a person. Price points meet in between, too.

Be sure to pick up the ERW Spring Menu Guide, on stands now. We’ll also insert the booklet in our March 23rd edition. Eat, drink, indulge!

NC Black Film Festival
Cameron Art Museum, Hannak Block USO Community Arts Center, Screen Gems
Saturday, March 24th – 27th
Tickets: $5/screening or $25/festival pass
Known formerly as Cine Noir, the North Carolina Black Film Festival will get underway at Cameron Art Museum, Hannah Block USO Community Arts Center and Screen Gems Studios on the 24th and continue through the 27th. Now in its 10th year, dozens of short and feature-length narratives, documentaries and animation flicks will show, and cash prizes will be awarded for the best films. An opening reception will be open to the public for free from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at CAM on the 24th. Also taking place throughout the weekend will be emerging filmmaker honorees and a red carpet youth event. Tickets are $5 per screening block and $25 for festival passes. Youth are admitted free to all age-appropriate screenings.

Herb and Garden Fair
Poplar Grove Plantation
Saturday, March 26th
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, March 27th
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: $5 (includes all-weekend entry)
Poplar Grove’s annual Herb and Garden Fair makes its way back to welcome spring in southeastern North Carolina. The historic plantation is charging a $5 entry this year, but the vendors that participate make it all worth it to get first dibs on springtime plants, vegetables and herbs. Organic products abound, as well as topiaries and native trees, bonzais and bedding plants. Classes and activities take place throughout the weekend, including one on back-yard rain gardens, a cooking class and even an herb gardening class.

(with Playboy Tre and DJ Jason Smith)
Friday, April 1 • 7 p.m.
Trask Coliseum
Tickets: Sharky’s Box Office and
Students: $20-$25; Public: $23-$28
We’ve all heard the songs on the radio, perhaps even felt numbed by the repetitive versus of “Airplanes” that inevitably get stuck on the brain (“Wish right now, wish right now, wish right now”). This year UNCW’s Big Spring Show brings students and the public alike a treat, with a performance from B.o.B., a.k.a. Bobby Ray. His latest release, “B.o.B. presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray,” features all sort of collaborations, like with Hayley Williams of Paramore or Lupe Fiasco, as well as beats not just catchy but infinitely experimental.

Fresh from a “Saturday Night Live” performance on March 12th, B.o.B. will take stage in Trask Coliseum April 1st. Audiences can get floor or balcony seats, but don’t wait too long to buy a ticket; seats are going fast!

Stand-up Comedienne Etta May
Saturday, April 2nd • 8 p.m.
Thalian Hall Main Stage
310 Chestnut Street
Tickets: $14-$25 or 910-632-2285
Given the title “Funniest Female Stand-up Comic” by the American Comedy Awards, Thalian Hall welcomes the Southern drawl of Etta May to its stage. ”Dr. Etta” will be discussing real-life problems that affect her dysfunctional family. Known for her Southern Fried Chicks tour, May brings a heaping dose of Old South to her storytelling standup. It’s sure to leave audiences side-splitting in laughter.

Azalea Festival
April 6th-10th • Downtown Wilmington
The 64th annual Azalea Festival returns with a week-long variety of activities, food and concerts. The Avett Brothers will perform on Friday evening to a sold-out show. Folks who wish to see Southern darling Darius Rucker can still get tickets to Wednesday night’s performance at Trask Coliseum (

Also taking place during the week will be the Cole Bros. Circus, garden and historic homes tours, a parade, the street festival and the second annual Azalea Festival Cake Challenge—which pastry chefs can sign up to partake in now. Just log on to the Azalea Festival website to download the application packet. While there, be sure to read up on all celebrities attending this year’s festival, as well as find out about our 2011 Azalea Queen, Heather French Henry.

Battleship 50th Anniversary
Battleship Alive, April 9th
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. • Free with admission
Battleship Easter Egg Hunt, April 22nd
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. • $5
910-251-5797 •
It’s the 50th anniversary of Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, and the Port City is celebrating the historical importance of the ship.Visitors to the Battleship will be able to partake in Battleship Alive on April 9th, where World War II living history interpreters re-enact daily duties and drills.
On the 22nd, they’ll be able to celebrate Easter with the Hippity Hoppity Egg Hunt and games. There will also be a bounce house and petting zoo for guests to enjoy. Tickets are $5 a person and children under 2 are free.

Rims on the River
April 15-17 Downtown Wilmington
Admission for vehicles: $10
Rims on the River has become one of downtown Wilmington’s premier springtime events, featuring a slew of cars and motorcycles aligning our historic streets. From muscle cars to hot rods, car connoisseurs will be in horsepower heaven.

Kicking off the fun April 15th, there will be concerts at local venues like the Soapbox, 16 Taps and Hell’s Kitchen. The car show takes off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 16th, when folks can expect to see over 600 vehicles. An awards presentation takes place at 4 p.m. at Fat Tony’s Italian Pub rear deck.

On April 17th, the event wraps up with a “Rims on the River Hot Rod Lunch and Brunch” at favorite local restaurants. Throughout the weekend, folks will see cars for sale and enjoy a ton of car-related vending, too.

Arts Sensation
Sunday, April 17 • 2 p.m.
Thalian Hall Main Stage • 910-632-2241
Tickets: $15
An annual fund-raising event pairing the fluidity of performance art with the philanthropic muse of our local Full Belly Project, Arts Sensation throws an annual benefit for the nonprofit organization. An exciting evening of unique dancing and music will be enjoyed by various local artists, including music from the Wilmington Big Band and performances from the Forward Motion Dance Company. The goal is to help the Full Belly keep its mission: Fight hunger and poverty around the world, as well as help build economically thriving and sustainable communities.

Taste of Wilmington
Sunday, May 15 • 5 p.m.
Hilton Wilmington Riverside
301 N Water Street
Admission: $45-$50
Local foodies flock to StarNews’ annual food and wine festival as they get to sample different bites and sips from participating restaurants and wine distributors. The naming of the Taste of Wilmington Top Chef also takes place, resulting in a live cookoff to crown the winner.

The public can vote on chefs they think should be considered in the running now. Taste of Wilmington is in Round Two, finalizing the contenders, so log on to to make your vote count. Tickets to the event will be on sale April 16th.

Book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty.
Thurs. – Sun., May 19th – 29th
8 p.m. and Sun. matinees at 3 p.m.
Thalian Hall
Tickets: $22-$25
(910) 632-2285 or
America: The imagery evoked from simpl
y mentioning the nation comes with bountiful and notable people, places and eras. Of one of its most important is the foundation from which it was built. “Ragtime” is a 12-time Tony Award-winning musical, hailed on Broadway for its significantly large cast of people representing the mores and circumstances at the turn of the 20th century.

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel, the play saw big-screen fame with star James Cagney. It’s heart and soul, however, threads a story around a few families—upper-middle class WASP, immigrant Jewish, and African-American—whose lives connect through stories of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, and America’s most applicable adjectives of hope and fear. Notable characters, like J.P. Morgan, Booker T. Washington, Evelyn Nesbit and Henry Ford, make historical appearances in the play, too.

It’s another Thalian Association premiere not to miss, opening on the 19th of May.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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