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Special events, extended hours in store for Cycle NC weekend

When 2,000 people come to town, it’s time to roll out the red carpet and show off Washington’s greatest assets: the river, the people and the establishments.

More than 1,800 riders, plus family and friends, have boosted the city’s population by 20 percent for Cycle NC’s three-day Coastal Ride. While they’ll be busy experiencing Beaufort County’s rural roads on two wheels during the day, at night, local merchants are accommodating the crowds with special events and extended hours through the weekend.

Ann Martin, owner of The Meeting Place Café on West Main Street, is one. Normally open for lunch five days a week and brunch on the weekends, Martin said The Meeting Place will also be serving dinner Friday and Saturday nights to cater to hungry cyclists. She said the decision to add a dinner menu is based on hospitality and supporting downtown as a whole.

“All the people coming into town — we don’t want people to get here and there only be a few restaurants open,” Martin said. “This is a good group; we’ve had them before. They are all just wonderful.”

Coldwell Banker Coastal Rivers Realty will hold “Rock the Block” at the West Main Street office Friday night. The block party will feature a DJ, along with free water and popcorn. Down the street, Arts of the Pamlico will present the blockbuster hit “Saturday Night Fever” on the big screen at the Turnage Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Before the show, live blues and jazz music will be played in the lobby; after the show, a disco party will take over the same space. Like many retail merchants, River Walk Gallery and Arts Center will remain open into the evening hours.

Backwater Jack’s and Inner Banks Outfitters, located in “The Fun Zone” at the end of East Main Street, will be running a shuttle from the downtown waterfront to the restaurant and bike/kayak shop every half hour Friday and Saturday nights starting at 5 p.m. Live music by the Brice Street Band and The Still Shakers is slated for Pebble Beach, the outdoor stage/seating area at Jack’s.

For those wanting to experience Beaufort County from the water, there are a few options.

At Inner Banks Outfitters, Guy Blackwell will be leading sunset kayak tours on the river at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, with a reduced rate of $20 for cyclists.

The North Carolina Estuarium, adjacent to Festival Park on Water Street, will have its regularly scheduled River Roving Tours at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. Saturday. There’s no fee for the pontoon-boat tour on the Pamlico-Tar River in which passengers will learn about the history and habitats of the Washington area, but reservations are required and children must be at least 6 years old to ride.

The Belle of Washington, docked on the Washington waterfront has ramped up its river tours Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with sightseeing cruises at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, lunch cruises at 11:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and dinner cruises at 6 p.m. all three days.

“I’m really trying to give people who come in the area a chance to see the river,” said Belle of Washington owner John Butler.

For more information about these and other events, visit www.littlewashingtonnc.com/events, www.artsofthepamlico.org/events, @BelleofWashington and @innerbanksoutfitters on Facebook.