September 25, 2015

Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta & Festival: Surviving a Last Minute Trip

No season owns festivals like fall! The inviting cool, crisp air, the aroma of warm and delicious comfort foods; a melting pot of smiling people-What more could a family ask for? Fall is here and wherever festivals/events are, there my family and I will be if we can afford to be. We’ve already attended our first for the season.

The Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta & Festival 
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We learned of this event a week prior but weren’t confident in our ability to attend. Three hours away is not exactly a hop and a skip when traveling with kids. Besides that, we had not budgeted for it. After carefully dissecting our finances and sacrificing a few luxuries (Roominess of our SUV with the DVD player. What the heck were we thinking?), we found ourselves on the road again. Our cramped but efficient Volkswagen Beetle was in the wind! 37 miles to the gallon baby!

The plan was to leave around 9am on Friday morning and most of our things were already packed. The festivities were scheduled to begin at 6pm. We wanted to be there well ahead of time! 

The thought of a three-day-weekend away was extremely exciting but drama quickly hijacked our nostalgia. Staying on schedule seemed promising until our youngest daughter began to behave strangely and wouldn’t eat any food. She was lethargic and moody as well. What we ended up with was a kitchen floor full of “sickness” and a 5 hour late start. To add insult to injury, the portable DVD player on which we were basing our road trip sanity… croaked. Blatant doom filled the air!

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The HoJo (Howard Johnson) in Wilmington, NC became our weekend home. The room was simple and “clean enough” but could use a good dusting. The bathroom didn’t require me to yell obscenities and the courteous staff attended to our needs. That equals a pretty decent experience for me. Considering all that we went through to get there, we just wanted sleep!

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Saturday morning I was awake at 6am, ready to get the day started. After getting showered and dressed, I awakened everyone else. My daughter’s stomach bug symptoms reappeared but we gathered our senses and headed to the festival when she was better.

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We found the information desk, concert/stage area, and visited the vendor section. It wasn't a large section but we saw vendors for purses/travel bags, Verizon Wireless, Organic Tea, Kettle Corn, etc. With our tummies rumbling, we weren't thrilled at our food selection but we made the most of it. At the time, we weren't aware of the many surrounding restaurants sponsoring the event and catering to visitors. However, the music was great & people were dancing so that made up for any lack. With the beach a block behind us, we decided to head that way!

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One can never say enough about the beauty and fun of being at the beach. It was an extraordinarily windy day but we had a great time despite being sand blasted!

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The rest of our day consisted of ice cream, Chinese food, and a visit from a local relative. The stomach bug didn't get the best of us but we made an executive decision to cancel other plans and rest the remainder of the evening.

We left at check-out on Sunday, happy about the experience but vowing to redeem ourselves on the next trip. I think we’ve found our new destination btw. I’m so excited!

Trip Overview

Festival Pros
Great Cause (Step Up For Soldiers)
Unique boat designs
Perfect beach proximity

Festival Cons
Lack of vendor choices
Confusing parking
Other activities on our itinerary  
NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher 
Tregembo Animal Park   
Fort Fisher State Historic Site  

If you'd like to plan your own future visit to this festival, click HERE. You will find all pertinent information concerning the event, hotel accommodations, etc. 

To view a portion of our trip via video, watch my video blog here. While you’re there, SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on our antics!  

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  1. I love everything of yours that I've read and that is just about everything you've ever wrote. 😉

    1. This is one of the best compliments I've ever received as a writer/blogger Kristy. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! People like you make this whole writing thing even more enjoyable. <3