TOPSAIL BEACH – Despite some lingering effects from Hurricane Florence, for the 30th year, art and beach music lovers will gather in Topsail Beach at the Autumn With Topsail Festival.
This premier fall Topsail event is still taking place, rain or shine, Oct. 20 and 21 on the grounds of the Historic Assembly Building, 720 Channel Boulevard in Topsail Beach. Events and activities run from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The historic Assembly Building did incur some roof damage from the storm but repair crews are already at work to get it ready for this year’s festival.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, we need to celebrate our coming together as a community helping our friends and neighbors recover from their losses,” says Festival Chairman Rick Stidley. “What an opportunity this year to say, ‘we may be eroded, but we’re not erased; flooded, but not finished.’ With God’s help we will rebuild and recover, not just physically but spiritually as well.”
Admission is $5 for adults, or $8 for an adult two-day pass. Children age 12 and under and active-duty military with an ID are free. Proceeds from the festival go to the Historical Society of Topsail Island, a volunteer non-profit organization that operates both the Assembly Building features arts and crafts from a variety of categories including: woodworking, metal sculpting, painting, jewelry crafting. Much more will be featured at the juried art show. Good food, live music, a beer and wine tent and lots of activities for children will also be available, but the focus is on the art, according to Stidley.
“This year we have undertaken a major restoration project to repair and reinforce the roof truss system in our historic Assembly Building,” Stidley said. Our initial costs totaled over $154,000 and now we have additional repairs. “Your continued support is needed as we work to preserve this historic building which functions at the very heart of this island community.” Autumn With Topsail has been a popular island fixture since 1988, as a key community fundraiser for the Assembly Building."
Live bands will perform both afternoons at the festival. Starting at noon Saturday, The Carolina Band will take the stage, followed at 5 p.m. by the North Tower Band. The next day, The Band of Oz will conclude festival entertainment from 1 to 4 p.m.
In addition to the music and art, the Food Court will have a large selection of choices prepared on festival grounds. Snacks and sweets will be available alongside traditional southern food and ethnic options. There will be a wine and beer tent and plenty of tables and chairs for diners to relax. The Kiwanis Club of Topsail Island Area will also host a Pancake Breakfast from 7:30 to 10:00 am on Saturday and 8 to 10 am on Sunday inside the Assembly Building on the festival grounds. Breakfast is $7 for adults and children over 12 years of age. It is $4 for children 6-11 and no charge for children younger than that with an adult purchased breakfast.
Children can enjoy rock painting, decorating mermaid and pirate masks, face painting, colorful hairspray designs, seashell “critters”, pirate eye patches, as well as, designing beaded necklaces and bracelets, with many of these activities as originally scheduled in the Assembly Building, where the Kiwanis breakfast will also be served. Pedestrian huttles will also be provided from remote parking at no charge.
The Assembly Building houses the Missiles and More Museum. Admission to the museum is free when it is open, but donations are gladly accepted. The museum exhibits original missiles from Operation Bumblebee, the U.S. Navy’s secret guided missile program that operated on Topsail Island from 1946 to 1948. For additional information visit the AWT website: www.autumnwithtopsail.com or the Historical Society of Topsail Island website: wwwtopsailhistoricalsociety.org.