'Your Town' highlights whirligigs, BBQ in Wilson

By Alyssa Corfont, WNCN - WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) - WNCN Meteorologist Alyssa Corfont visited Wilson Friday as a part of our "Your Town" series.

Wilson coins itself as the "Crossroads of charm and innovation," which is a perfect way to describe what is happening in the downtown historic district.

Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose says it's easy as to why his city is so unique.

"The thing that makes us special here is our people," said Rose.

Rose is serving his 24th year as mayor. Before that, he was a member of the city's fire department for 30 years.

Susan Kellum, the marketing and communications coordinator for the Historic Downtown of Wilson, said renovations in the area have helped with the city's growth.

Kellum said two buildings in downtown were renovated into lofts and they are all full of renters. Kellum said they have more plans for the future.

"We think the future is just unstoppable for us, I think because we do have sort of this perfect storm of things that are happening," she said.

One of their main projects downtown is the Whirligig Park.

VIDEO: "Your Town" highlights whirligigs in Wilson

The Whirligigs were designed and constructed by a farmer named Vollis Simpson. Simpson lived outside of town and after he retired, he kept busy making the whirligigs. When he passed away, his family agreed to have 31 of the statues displayed in downtown Wilson.

The city has planned a two-acre park around the statues that will include a splash pad, amphitheater and dedicated area for their farmers market.

"I think this project is the future of Wilson. We used to be the world's greatest tobacco market, things change", said Kellum. "This is our unique asset that his family, our visitors center, our downtown, our city and counties coming together to make this again the heartbeat of Wilson."

And when you come to Wilson, you don't leave without hearing about Parker's Barbecue.

The restaurant opened in 1946 and is located on U.S. Highway 301. Before Interstate 95, 301 was the main route from Florida to Maine.

VIDEO: "Your Town" highlights Parker's Barbecue in Wilson

Eric Lippard, the vice president of Parker's Barbecue, said for the past 18 years they've served around 20,000 customers a week.

"It's where everyone stops to eat. They brought their children up, their grandchildren, they come in here and take pictures; lots of memories have been made eating at Parker's," said Lippard.

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