When planning excursions around festivals that happen annually in the south, keep Johnston County’s towns in mind. Johnston County is conveniently located where I-95, I-40, and Highway 70 come together just 30 minutes east of Raleigh, in the center of North Carolina. It is a fun and affordable destination with long-standing, unique events throughout the year. If you have any interest in learning about any of the events listed below, please contact the Johnston County Visitors Bureau or visit our Press Page.
Bentonville Battlefield Reenactment Event: To mark the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville, visit this state historic site for the largest reenactment event in the state held every five years. Experience many free learning programs that weekend and two battle reenactments which are ticketed events.
Bentonville Reenactment has been Rescheduled to March 20-21, 2021
Live @ the Rudy: Shows Scheduled throughout the Year – The Rudy Theatre has released its 2020 show dates with 4 unique shows that are all new and family-friendly – think Branson-style with music, comedy, and more. The March and April show is the Easter Jubilee, May through June is the Summer Jubilee, August through October is the Classic Country Jubilee, and finally the anticipated Christmas Jubilee in November and December.
Beach Fest: April 25 – This unique event held at The Farm Entertainment Venue in Selma, will be in its seventh year celebrating a unique regional musical genre. Past acts have been beach music notables that include Jim Quick & Coastline, The Embers, Band of Oz, and Chairmen of the Board.
Ham & Yam Festival: May 2 – Taking place in Downtown Smithfield the first Saturday in May every year, the Ham & Yam Festival is packed with ham biscuits, barbeque pork, and sweet potatoes. There will be arts, crafts, kid’s activities, and live entertainment.
Ava Gardner Festival: June 5-7 – Join Ava fans from all over the world in Smithfield, NC for the Ava Gardner Festival featuring new exhibits, free movies, heritage tours and more! Over these many years, visitors love the personal stories featured in rotating exhibits and the extensive movie memorabilia the museum has curated.
301 Endless Yard Sale: June 19-20 – Johnston County and its towns along US 301 will host the eighth “Endless Yard Sale” which takes place annually the third weekend of June. The communities will join together with deals, antiques, collectibles, and more along a 100-mile stretch of highway between Roanoke Rapids and Dunn, NC.
State Singing Convention: June 26-28 – The oldest Southern gospel convention in the nation happens at the Singing Grove in Benson and celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020. It includes three days of gospel music competition including amateur duets, trios, quartets, choirs, and family groups.
Benson Mule Days: September 24-27 – The 4th Saturday of September has been home to Benson’s Mule Days festival for over 70 years now. This four-day family-fun festival is packed with mule competition events, rodeos, carnival rides, arts and crafts, street dances, and concerts. It also boasts the largest parade in North Carolina!
Railroad Days Festival: October 3 – Join the fun in Uptown Selma as the town celebrates its rail heritage every year the first Saturday in October. The annual event will offer its regular fare, including live entertainment, vendors, food, rides, a parade and 5K run.
Historic Downtown Smithfield Ghost Walk: October 29 – Small groups will be guided through the cemetery where costumed reenactors will tell stories about famous (and perhaps infamous) local persons buried there. Previously featured ghosts include Percy Flowers, Ava Gardner, and Governor Gabriel Johnston.
Clayton Harvest Festival: October 28 through November 1 – With roots dating back to 1951, the award-winning Clayton Chamber of Commerce’s Clayton Harvest Festival is one of the largest festivals in Johnston County. It includes a midway with fair rides, games, and food, Clayton’s largest vendor fair, Squealin’ on the Square barbecue contest, a Military Crossroads featuring military demonstrations, a classic car show, tractor show, and bike show, as well as local performances.
The Shindig: October 31 – For the last few years this little Americana music festival in Downtown Clayton has gained momentum and popularity among music and beer lovers alike. Enjoy amazing acts in an intimate space before they hit it big; previous performers include The Black Lillies, American Aquarium, and The Steeldrivers.
Meadow Lights: Late November through December 31 – The largest and oldest Christmas light display in eastern, NC. Family owned and operated business that started more than 40 years ago. “The Old Country Store” is one of the largest candy stores in the state specializing in Christmas and old fashion candy, carrying over 300 varieties. We display lights on over 30 acres and operate a train ride and carousel through 10 plus acres.
The Johnston County Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the entire county. For more information, contact Ashby Brame, email@example.com or call 919-989-8687, or visit the Johnston County Visitors Bureau website at www.johnstoncountync.org. For a current listing of events in Johnston County throughout the year visit www.johnstoncountync.org/events.