Towering over a public park in Historic Downtown Wilson are 30 monumental metal sculptures turning and moving with the wind. Collectively they represent the world’s largest collection of whirligigs. In 2013 they became North Carolina’s official folk art.
What are whirligigs? They resemble a cross between windmills and rooftop weather vanes.
The Whirligig Park is populated by 30 of the oversized sculptures, some as tall as 50 feet.
The creator of the whirligigs, Vollis Simpson, served in World War II in the Army Air Corps. He returned home to Wilson after the War and opened a small engine repair shop. He also operated a business moving houses. After he retired he took the material he had salvaged from both businesses and began creating sculptures. The repurposed parts include fans, road signs, bicycles, mirrors, and stovepipes along with other aluminum, steel and wood pieces.
As Simpson built his creations in a fi eld on his farm, the area quickly attracted attention and became a major tourist attraction in Wilson.
In 2010 the idea of creating a public park to display and preserve the whirligigs began, culminating with the opening of the two-acre park last fall. The park is located at 301 Goldsboro Street South in Wilson.
In addition to the Whirligig Park, Wilson is home to a number of other fi eld trip attractions including Imagination Station Science and History Museum, Nestus Freeman Round House Museum. Wilson Rose Garden and the Wilson Botanical Gardens.