Goose Creek State Park festival celebrates history

Published 6:13 pm Friday, December 9, 2016

Beaufort County’s Goose Creek State Park pulled out all the stops to celebrate local history and the great outdoors with its first Forestry Festival.

The Dec. 3 event was part of a statewide commemoration of the centennial of North Carolina State Parks.

The schedule included tar-kiln demonstrations, nature hikes, food, live music, children’s activities, exhibits and tree plantings. Those in attendance were even invited to take home their own long leaf pine seedlings, with 5,000 donated by the Weyerhaeuser nursery.

“The main goal of the festival was to get the local community to come out and learn about the cultural history that is in their own backyard, including how we became Tar Heels,” said Doug LeQuire, Goose Creek State Park superintendent. “In addition, the event was designed to educate the local community on Goose Creek’s long leaf pine restoration effort, which includes our natural resource management program. The natural resource management program at the park primarily utilizes prescribed fires and will involve some thinning to the area around the environmental education center in the near future. Another purpose of the event was to educate the general public on fire management practices and prevention.”

A festival highlight was “Tar, Pitch & Turpentine: Naval Stores in N.C.,” a historical presentation staged by Bryan Avery and the Tarheel Boys. The group used a replica of a tar kiln like those once used in the area where the park is now located; plans are in place to add a permanent tar kiln exhibit in the park in the near future.

Those gathered for the festival were greeted by Mike Murphy, director of N.C. State Parks. Goose Creek recorded 1,300 visitors that day, with an estimated 400 of them in the park especially for the festival, according to LeQuire.