Arts and Culture in Smithfield, NC

By Tiffany Williams on December 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Bennett

Patrons of the arts and history buffs will be pleased in Johnston County, which has several sites to explore and appreciate local heritage, Civil War history, music, visual arts and theater.

Visual Arts

The 1,500-square-foot Frank Creech Art Gallery at Johnston Community College in Smithfield includes photography, paintings, sculptures and other works created by JCC students and other artists. In Clayton, art lovers browse Right Angles Framing & Art and Eye of the Eagle Art Gallery. Smithfield has River City Arts, which promotes local art and provides studio space. Four Oaks' Barbara A. Keen Studio includes Keen's stained glass and original paintings.

Festivals and Celebrations

Johnston County communities know how to throw a party. Every April, the town of Cleveland hosts Strawberry Festival, while Smithfield enjoys a Ham & Yam Festival in May and a Friends of the 4th Independence Day in July. Other celebrations include Benson Mule Days, the Harvest Festival in Clayton, and the Johnston County Festival of Trees in Smithfield.

Historic Attractions

Those who wish to journey back to a simpler time can choose from a variety of museums in Johnston County. The Johnston County Heritage Center is in Smithfield, as is the Ava Gardner Museum, dedicated solely to the late Hollywood star who was born in nearby Grabtown. Also in the community are the Benson Museum of Local History and Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site, where the largest Civil War battle in North Carolina was fought. The Selma Antique District, while not a museum, preserves history with its array of antique shops and malls, all within walking distance of each other.

Music and More

For music enthusiasts, Clayton Center stages musical theater performances, concerts and author appearances. In Selma, visitors and residents enjoy the American Music Jubilee, a two-hour variety show that has become a favorite with tour and church groups from around the country. Every June, Benson hosts the State Annual Singing Convention. In Smithfield, Johnston Community College hosts the popular Country Music Showcase, a bimonthly show that allows local singers to perform with a live band in a professional setting.

Theatrical Performances

Neuse Little Theatre in Smithfield gives four performances each year at the former American Legion Hut overlooking the Neuse River. Benson Little Theatre has been hosting performances since 2000 at the W.J. Barefoot Auditorium, while the Clayton Youth Theater has been producing quality shows by young people since 2007.

Johnston County Arts Council

The Council promotes the importance of art and culture through dance, music, theater, storytelling, literary arts, visual arts, folk arts and its Artists-in-the-Schools program. JCAC, founded in 1972, secures grants to provide financial assistance and services to local artists and nonprofit arts and service organizations.

Learn more about the culture in Smithfield, NC.

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