City in Waiting

Entertainment runs the gamut during the annual Southport Spring Festival, from rock 'n' roll to R&B. Courtesy photo

Entertainment runs the gamut during the annual Southport Spring Festival, from rock ‘n’ roll to R&B. Courtesy photo

What: Southport Spring Festival
When: Fri., April 18th • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sat., April 19th • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Downtown Southport
Cost: FREE

Days are longer, birds are chirping, and azaleas—the pride of southeastern North Carolina—are blooming, exploding pops of color everywhere. It’s spring, and folks can celebrate the much-anticipated arrival of the season with the annual Southport Spring Festival.

For over 25 years, the Southport Spring Festival has welcomed the warmth of the sun and the blooming shrubs with a variety of activities for the whole family. The festival, co-sponsored by Downtown Southport, Inc. and the Southport-Oak Island Kiwanis Club, is held on Easter weekend in Franklin Square Park and brings over 14,000 visitors to downtown Southport. This year, the event falls on Friday, April 18th and Saturday, April 19th.

The Festival features food vendors,  a chili cook-off, musical entertainment, arts and crafts, an azalea and plant sale, children’s activities, and a 5k run/walk.

This year, the food vendors will be set up closer to the Southport City Gym lot, Peggy Popelars, president of Downtown Southport, Inc., tells. “There will be more space for tables and chairs providing a more conducive area for outdoor eating,” she says.

Along with the various food vendors, the Robert Ruark Chili Cook-off will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests can pay $5 to taste and vote for their favorite chili. Local businesses, organizations, and neighborhood groups compete for the coveted People’s Choice Award and bragging rights to the title “Southport’s Champion Chili 2014.” Who will be this year’s winner?  That will be announced at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on the Franklin Square Park stage.

The amphitheater’s stage will offer two full days of entertainment. The music will consist of a variety of artists, groups and styles, including R&B, Christian, folk, horns, big band, rock and dance numbers.

There will be over 150 arts and craft booths—featuring handmade, original pieces—stationed around the park. In the past guests have encountered ornate wood carvings, custom cutting boards and other kitchen items, jewelry, cooking spices, art, and more.

This year the Southport-Oak Island Kiwanis Club will be enhancing the kids’ activities, Popelar says. The Kiwanis’ Builder’s Club from South Brunswick Middle School will be on hand, as will Brunswick County’s Smart Start, providing free face painting and corn hole games. “In keeping with the Kiwanis mission, to serve and involve the youth of Brunswick County, there is more attention on kid’s activities that are free of charge,” Popelars clarifies.

The Southport-Oak Island  Kiwanis Club also will be fundraising with their annual azalea and plant sale, hot dog sale, and  5k run/walk.

The 5k run/walk, as of press, already had over 200 participants registered, and folks can still sign-up. Start time is 8 a.m. at Waterfront Park on Saturday, April 19th. The course goes clockwise through historic Southport and along the waterfront of the Cape Fear River. Awards will be presented in first place for men’s and women’s age categories. The cost to join in is $20 before April 19th and $25 on the day of the race. Funds are used to provide services to the youth of Brunswick County.

For more information on the festival or to sign up for the race, chili cook-off or arts and crafts booths, visit

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Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine