Your Summer 2017 Chapel Hill Checklist

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Blair Nance, a 2002 East Chapel Hill High School grad, studied fashion merchandising at the University of Georgia and worked in New York for nearly a decade before she launched Soeur du Maroc with a friend. “Influenced by a love of travel and collecting treasures everywhere we visit, we were very inspired by the craftsmanship of local artisans we discovered in Morocco,” Blair says. “We loved the idea of partnering with a women’s cooperative to create this collection of all handmade products.” Her colorful bags are all statement pieces that will take you from the beach or farmers market to an evening out. You can find them at or shop them locally at Whilden.


Play supersized versions of classic games like Operation and Jenga on July 21 and August 18 at Kidzu Children’s Museum. They’ll also have interactive versions of Angry Birds and Hungry Hungry Hippos, parachute building, relay races, bowling and more. And it’s not too late to get a summer membership! Enjoy unlimited admission all summer long and extended hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Chapel Hill native Wyatt Easterling reflects on his time in Nashville, James Taylor and the music scene way back when. His album “Divining Rod” came out this spring.

“After a career in Nashville as an artist, songwriter, record producer, A&R Chief for Atlantic Records and as a song publisher, I felt a tug to get back to performing outside of the confines of Music City. I started moving into touring with my own music in 2006 and have been out playing since. It feels like it’s been the right move and having my new CD ‘Divining Rod’ sitting at No. 5 on the Folk DJ chart would seem to confirm it. About four years ago I felt another tug and the need for a change of scenery. My father [Bill Easterling] had passed away in 2011 and my mom [Ellyn Easterling] is still here in Chapel Hill. So I thought, well, here’s a place I’m certainly familiar with and [a] destination I had on my list of places to [consider], so homeward I came [in 2013]. It was a funny feeling to drive back over the mountains from Nashville from whence I came some 32 years ago. But I was satisfied with my time there, so on to the next chapter.

Musician Wyatt Easterling was led back home to Chapel Hill after a life in Nashville.

Growing up in Chapel Hill during the ’60s and ’70s was a mesmerizing musical period; it really was a renaissance of sorts. Great new singers, groups and songs were dropping out of the airwaves every day it seemed. My pals and I would go to the Record Bar downtown on Henderson Street to buy the newest release by Jackson Browne, CSN&Y or The Rolling Stones or whoever had the newest record and head home to make an afternoon out of listening to the entire album over and over again. We had a great love and respect for those artists and their work.

We had our hometown hero James Taylor and his younger brother Livingston influencing anyone with a guitar in those days, and since my father worked side-by-side with their father, Ike Taylor, at the UNC medical school, I had a personal connection that steered me greatly as a young musician and songwriter. Livingston was a wonderful mentor for me. He taught me to treat [music] as a business if I wanted to do it for a living. I also had an early introduction to Nashville through the son of a Durham native and Hall of Fame songwriter John D. Loudermilk Jr. His son John D. III and I were best pals growing up and we eventually moved out to Nashville together in 1981.

There were a number of hot spots around the country for music during that era, but Chapel Hill was one of the more desirable places to be. I cut my teeth playing in clubs like the Cat’s Cradle when it was at the Rosemary Street location and of course, there was Chapel Hill’s Town Hall and The Mad Hatter and Raleigh’s The Pier. Live music was king and the local musicians enjoyed a kind of kinship around the “Hill.” Good times indeed.

These days when I’m not on the road, I’m back where I started here in Chapel Hill. I run back and forth to Nashville when I have a project to produce or some co-writes lined up. I recorded my most recent album in Asheville and used almost all North Carolina musicians. I’m very proud to have Rod Abernethy, Laurelyn Dossett, Rebecca Newton, Eric Bannan and Wes Collins, all living in and around the Chapel Hill area, involved in some capacity on this CD. I’ve been a part of some monumental records over the years but I’m as proud of this effort as any.”



Southern Village presents Movies on Market all summer long so pack a blanket for films like “Wonder Woman” (August 19) and “Power Rangers” (July 15) on Saturday evenings. Get there early on select nights for Dancing ‘til Dusk before the movie and visit for other summer events.



Photo by Chelsea Mars


Dine at your favorite downtown restaurant – while half the town’s on vacation, you won’t have to wait long for a table. Then get some fresh air and exercise at the 2nd Friday ArtWalk. Download the map from the event website and choose any of the venues that stretch from Carrboro’s Town Hall to Caffe Driade on East Franklin. Upcoming dates include July 14 and August 11, from 6-9 p.m.


Miss the long days spent at summer camp? Take a class and reclaim that excitement. Offerings by the Carrboro Recreation & Parks Department starting in July include vegetarian pressure cooking, French and basket weaving.



This summer at Silverspot Cinema, watch National Theatre Live’s “Salomé” on July 10 and The Metropolitan Opera’s performance of “Carmen” on July 19.




Enjoy a BLT at Merritt’s or a pint of Blueberry Wheat at Top of the Hill.


Take it from this local mom – there’s so much to do this close to home: “1870 Farm has been around since, you guessed it, 1870! I attended a farm tour with my little guy, and we did a ton. We met a mother-and-baby pair of donkeys, Coconut and Mango. We saw sheep, goats and pygmy goats, took a walk with Jeff the alpaca, fed fish at the pond, hung out with chickens, did a bit of gardening and went on a hayride. We were able to feed every animal we saw. It is such a great way to help kids conquer any fears they may have of larger animals. If you enjoy the peace and quiet that fishing offers, the farm also provides private fishing reservations at the pond (which is just the loveliest spot). Guys, if you’re looking for a unique date setting for your fishing-loving gal, this is the place. If you want something more zen, they’ve got a restorative yoga series for adults that will continue through the summer. They are also in the works of joining forces with local artists. Stay tuned for what will come of those collaborations.” –Sarah King

Photo by Sarah Arneson




These days we’re loving the patios at Acme, Orange County Social Club, Bowbarr and The Northside District that feel like an oasis far, far away from town.




Photo by Joe Pedit

Meet up with Morehead Planetarium for skywatching at Jordan Lake. On July 15, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn should be on display while on August 12, you’re in for a treat with the Perseid meteor shower.


Ana Mahoney grew up eating shave ice in Kihei, a picturesque town on Maui. Then her mother ran a stand on the mainland and Ana worked there in high school with her three sisters and their friends. Now she’s opened Shaka Shave Ice, a new spot that’s walkable from Carrboro and West Franklin Street. Pick from more than two dozen flavors – including her favorite, a coconut-vanilla combination called Blue Hawaii – and consider ordering yours with the vanilla ice cream. “By the time you get to the bottom, you’ve got coconut ice cream,” Ana says. Her three kids are hooked and so are customers, with some returning for a second helping in the same day!

North Carolina native Blythe Boyd opened a popular New York City scoop shop in 2008 and thankfully the Tar Heel State can now enjoy her talents. Based in Hillsborough out of a roving cart and named after her pup, Sweet Hazel’s Frozen Desserts makes nondairy, vegan ice cream. Blythe starts with homemade cashew milk and adds ingredients like bananas and organic strawberries for her delectable Southern-inspired flavors like Banana Pudding, Peanut Butter Pie and Darkest Chocolate. Track down the treats at select Triangle Vegfest monthly markets at Southern Village, Last Fridays in Hillsborough or at stores like Coco Bean Coffee Shop, The Root Cellar and Market Street Coffeehouse.

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Jessica Stringer

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