Smithfield’s Neuse River Amphitheater remodel project was completed just in time for May’s Ham & Yam Festival this year. Celebrated with a community-attended ribbon-cutting ceremony, free concert, and food trucks, the beautiful and functional space will certainly be an asset to the town for many years. 

The renovations to the amphitheater were funded by a State Capital Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) Grant of $989,500 and includes new seating, handicap accessibility, a rebuilt stage, plus a new roof, new wiring and lighting, and an improved drainage system. The design for the project was performed by McAdams Company of Raleigh; Balfour Beatty Construction performed the transformations to the amphitheater. Concept drawings by WithersRavenel were presented to the Town of Smithfield in 2018 and were paid for by Smithfield's 2% rooms tax via the Johnston County Visitors Bureau.

"The amphitheater project, completely funded from a SCIF (State Capital Infrastructure) grant, is a huge win for the Town of Smithfield. The amphitheater and its infrastructure have been in need of repair for some time so we are overjoyed that the renovation is complete. We look forward to many events and concerts to be held at the Amphitheater in the coming years and decades," stated Brian Eaves, Public Information Officer for the Town of Smithfield. 

Originally built in 1987, the Town pledged $5,000 to help the Smithfield Kiwanis Club underwrite the cost of the stage at that time; the total cost was $10,000 and the Kiwanis Club paid the remaining amount plus miscellaneous expenses. 

Drone Shot of Smithfield Amphitheatre Construction April 2023


Clayton Piano Festival Event This Month 

Next up at the amphitheater, the Town of Smithfield and Clayton Piano Festival present a special 4th of July celebration of American piano music from virtuoso pianist and director of the Clayton Piano Festival, Jonathan Levin. Jonathan will take audiences through an eclectic mix of music from familiar classics like Rhapsody in Blue to seldom-heard masterworks and even original compositions and arrangements by Levin himself. The event will begin at 7:00 PM on the 23rd. Bring a lawn chair, grab a meal from a selection of food trucks, and enjoy the show. Admission is free!

“It’s so exciting to see the new Neuse River Amphitheater start to host events - get ready for a summer full of music, movies, and more. We’re excited to kick it off with Jonathan Levin and a celebration of American piano music,” said Donna Bailey-Taylor, President/CEO of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau and Clayton Piano Festival board member. 

Jonathan Levin Portrait in front of water

More Events on the River 

The new amphitheater is situated along the Buffalo Creek Greenway, a part of both the Mountains to Sea Trail and the East Coast Greenway. The river and rich vegetation along its banks create a beautiful backdrop for the stage. Warm summer evenings create the perfect lighting for a Movies in the Park Series. Enjoy Top Gun: Maverick on July 22, and Jungle Cruise on September 16; movies start after sundown. There are also many more events in the works so that both community members and visitors can enjoy fun and free events at the Amphitheater throughout the year. 

In fact, be sure to keep the Ava Gardner Festival in mind as you look ahead to the Fall. The festival is an annual celebration of Smithfield native and Hollywood legend Ava Gardner. Happening Oct. 6-8 this year, there are both paid and free events on the festival schedule. On the evening of Oct. 6th, attend a free screening of Ava’s movie Show Boat at the amphitheater starting at 7:30 PM. Food trucks will be available starting at 6:30 PM.

Show Boat Poster starring Ava Gardner, Kathryn Grayson, and Howard Keel.