Explore Your Family Tree

Ancestry projects grow in popularity as more people connect with their roots


Published:

Photo Courtesy of Diane L. Richard, MosaicRPM

Genealogy might be a study of the past, but it continues to attract millions of enthusiasts in the present. In fact, according to the 2014 “Ancestry Global Family History Report” from ancestry.com, which compiled data from 6,000 people across the globe, one in three adults has turned to the internet to uncover information about their ancestors. Two-thirds of those surveyed say knowing more about family history is increasingly important. This Saturday, Oct. 15, starting at 10 a.m. the North Carolina Government and Heritage Library and the State Archives of North Carolina is offering a free webcast to North Carolinians about the tools they can use to track their family history.

Diane L. Richard of Raleigh, a professional genealogist at Mosaic Research and Project Management, suspects that the mobility of modern families contributes to a desire to connect with their roots, which have potentially gotten lost in the process.

“I’ve lived about five different places,” Richard says. “My kids were born some place we don’t live now. You don’t have the family stories, you don’t have the connections, you don’t have that sense of where you came from. In a way, that was always an anchor for people … there was a security to knowing where you came from.”

Moving around leads many families to want to rediscover their roots to understand more than just their branch on the family tree, says Meghan Bowden, a professional genealogist at Kinfolk Genealogy in Charlotte.

“I think for a lot of us (who research our family’s history), there’s just a curiosity,” she says. “Where did I come from, who came before me … and placing your family within the larger picture.”

Image of an Acey family immigration document courtesy of Diane L. Richard, MosaicRPM

Beginning Your Search

Setting out on your own treasure hunt to collect pieces of your family’s puzzle has never been easier. Below are some tips to consider as you begin exploring.

1. Start with what you and your relatives know. “You always start with yourself,” Richard says, as well as with your family and their stories. Bill Beyea, a father of two in Winston-Salem who has done extensive genealogy research, recommends writing down everything you can think of about your family’s history, as well as reaching out to relatives to see what information they might have. With thousands of potential members in a family tree, Bowden says “it can really get overwhelming,” but narrowing your search to a particular branch helps.

2. Find a way to make the search work for you. Beyea says the amount of time he spends researching his family comes and goes in “phases.” Growing up, his family would look in phone books when they traveled on the off chance they might find someone else who shared his uncommon last name. This was one of the seeds that grew into his desire to fill out his family tree.

Image of a passport document for an Acey family member COURTESY OF DIANE L. RICHARD, MOSAICRPM

“It was always a curiosity — the name itself,” Beyea says. “It’s a very uncommon name, and it was most likely a name that was spelled differently at some point, but the records don’t go back that far.”

He has traced the name back to a group of New York brothers, but the trail ends there. Any records of the brothers’ parents’ names have been lost.

“There has always been this ongoing quest — will some bit of information that exists somewhere ever turn up to crack that code?” Beyea wonders.

3. Look up local genealogy societies and county records. A last name also inspired Richard to seek answers through genealogical research. She has rarely heard of anyone else who shares her maiden name, Acey. She knew her father’s family was Finnish, but after his father died, his mother ceased contact with that side of the family.

Richard called a government office in the Massachusetts county where members of the Acey family had lived in the past to see if their records could help. The clerk who called her back said she hadn’t had luck finding anything about the name Acey, but she had found a paper mentioning another last name in association with it.

“Long story short, Kujanpää was the name they immigrated with and within a year, they changed it to [Esi then] Acey. That just opened the door to Finland.”

Photo Courtesy of Diane L. Richard, MosaicRPM

With only that nugget of information, Richard was able to trace her family back to their Finnish town’s founding. All because the clerk — a stranger — took a little bit of extra time to investigate for her.

“This is a massive puzzle of the world and we all have certain little pieces,” she says. “You don’t know where that will come from.”

The North Carolina Genealogical Society supports researchers statewide. There are also multiple local societies across the state, Richard says. The societies often have journals and newsletters that can help you think through research.

Genealogists are a very caring, sharing, giving crowd,” she says. “They love helping somebody get started on their journey.”

4. Search the web. A plethora of virtual resources exists to point you in the right direction. One of the most popular, ancestry.com, takes the information you have and tries to connect it with other records and family trees on the site.

Familysearch.org, a free site provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is another “great place to dabble” and explore records, Richard says. Other sites, such as myheritage.com also offer access to family-tree-building software and historical records. Findagrave.com can enable you to locate ancestors’ headstones.

“Ultimately, it’s helpful to use a combination of all of (the sites) if you can,” Bowden says, with a warning that ancestry.com is “not foolproof” and can easily lead you down the wrong path if the information other members have posted isn’t accurate.

5. Get the kids involved. Have children interview their grandparents, or help sort through family photos or keepsakes, perhaps making a scrapbook from their findings.

“Children really benefit from knowing those stories and feeling like they’re part of a larger family or a larger story,” Bowden says.

Bowden’s interest in her family history bloomed from grandparents who “both just loved to tell stories.” When she was working on a school ancestry project in elementary school, her grandmother shared with her that Pocahontas was one of their ancestors.

“As a kid, I was just totally fascinated,” Bowden says.

Later, she studied history in school and began to research her family’s past. Some of her most interesting finds? Letters exchanged between ancestors.

“Finding pictures or poems or things like that that you would never have known existed, you’re like ‘Yes, I’ve found this treasure!’”

Older children also benefit from this research. Not only does it make history personal, it helps them develop research skills, problem-solving techniques and experience evaluating the veracity of information, Richard says.

6. Call in a professional. Richard and Bowden consult with clients who want help tracing their family’s history. They offer a variety of services and packages tailored to their clients’ needs, and the research they do complements what you do on your own.

Laura Lacy is a freelance writer based in Chapel Hill. She fell down the ancestry.com rabbit hole while researching this story.

 

Proof is in the DNA

DNA testing is another way genealogy research has entered the modern age. AncestryDNA and 23andMe both offer tests that can indicate where your ancestors originated from, as well as potentially connect you to living relatives who have also taken the test. Both companies allow you to submit saliva samples from home via a $99 kit.

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Website »

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A frank, heartwarming and inspiring story about a contemporary Cherokee woman and her father who embark on an incredible 900-mile journey along the “Trail of Tears” to truly understand...

Cost: $16.01-$42.70

Where:
Hanesbrands Theatre
209 N. Spruce St.
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
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Babies from birth to toddlers are welcome with their parents/caregivers. We sing songs, repeat chants and rhymes, and have a great time! Please join us. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Reynolda Manor Branch Library
2839 Fairlawn Drive NW
Winston-Salem, NC  27106
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Story time especially for preschoolers and their caregivers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Carver School Road Branch Library
4915 Lansing Drive
W-S, NC  27105
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Come on out and build with Legos. All children are welcome. Duplo Legos provided for small children. Space is limited, so large groups are asked to call ahead 336-703-2910.

Cost: Free

Where:
Carver School Road Branch Library
4915 Lansing Drive
W-S, NC  27105
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A monthly art program for kids ages 8-12. We will study different artists and art styles and then create our own masterpieces. No registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Children's Storyroom - High Point Public Library
901 N. Main St
High Point, NC  27262
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Sample foods from countries around the world. To register, call 336-703-2930. For ages 11 and under. Rm. 1.

Cost: Free

Where:
Kernersville Branch Library
130 E Mountain St
Kernersville, NC  27284
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Learn more about the agencies at Southside! Bring the entire family for an afternoon of education, entertainment, food and games.

Cost: Free

Where:
Southside Recreation Center
401 Taylor Avenue
High Point, NC  27260
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Enjoy $4 admission per person after 5 p.m.

Cost: $4

Where:
Greensboro Children's Museum
220 N. Church St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Sponsor: Greensboro Children's Museum
Telephone: 336-574-2898
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The Open Arms Ministry will hold a Parent’s Night Out for all foster and adoptive families. Age-appropriate activities and snacks will be provided. Volunteers are Basic Life Support (BLS)...

Cost: Free

Where:
First Christian Church Ministries
1130 N. Main St
Kernersville, NC  27284
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Sponsor: First Christian Church Ministries
Telephone: 336-996-7388
Contact Name: Carla Decoskey
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The most beloved family show in the world, featuring European-style circus extravaganza including physical comedy, juggling, acrobats from the Moscow Circus, highly intelligent dogs and even...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
Carolina Theatre
310 S. Greene St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Join us for "Moana" at Fly Away Fridays Movie Night by PTI Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO) in LeBauer Park! Bring a blanket or chair, and come early to grab a bite to eat...

Cost: Free

Where:
LeBauer Park
208 N. Davie St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Enjoy delicious carnival food, rides and more. Held in the Greensboro Coliseum parking lot, the Central Carolina Festival will feature an action-packed midway with thrill rides, games of skill and...

Cost: $5

Where:
Greensboro Coliseum
1921 W. Gate City Blvd.
Greensboro, NC  27403
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A frank, heartwarming and inspiring story about a contemporary Cherokee woman and her father who embark on an incredible 900-mile journey along the “Trail of Tears” to truly understand...

Cost: $16.01-$42.70

Where:
Hanesbrands Theatre
209 N. Spruce St.
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
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On $4 Fun Fridays starting at 5, the usual $8 per person admission fee is cut in half. Come enjoy the museum at this amazing discounted cost 5-8 p.m. 

Where:
Greensboro Children's Museum
220 N. Church St.
GSO, NC
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Telephone: 336-574-2898
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The Drama Center of City Arts presents “More Fun than Bowling,” a philosophical comedy by Steven Dietz. April 21-22, 27-29 at 8 p.m. and April 23 and 30 at 2 p.m. In “More...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Stephen D. Hyers Theatre
200 N. Davie St.
Greensboro, NC
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Telephone: 336-335-6426
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Join the quest! Learn about energy – what it is, where it comes from, how we use it and why it’s so important to use it wisely. Conservation Quest® delivers important conservation...

Cost: Included with museum admission

Where:
SciWorks
400 W. Hanes Mill Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
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Based on J.M. Barrie’s classic tale and featuring an unforgettable score, Peter Pan is one of the most beloved and frequently performed family favorites of all time for 60 years....

Cost: $10-$30

Where:
Starr Theatre
Community Theatre of Greensboro
520 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC  27406
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Have you collected a pile of stuff while spring cleaning that you want to get rid of? Sign up for a space at our yard sale fundraiser and sell your things that may become someone else’s...

Where:
First Christian Church
1130 N. Main St
Kernersville, NC  27284
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Sponsor: First Christian Church
Telephone: 336-996-7388
Contact Name: Pete Ramsey
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In conjunction with Autism Unbound's 5K run at the McNairy Library, join us for Exceptional Construction (9:30 a.m.) and Sensory Storytime (10:30 a.m.), and stop by for ideas on how library...

Cost: Free

Where:
Glenn McNairy Branch Library
4860 Lake Jeanette Road
Greensboro, NC
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For Ages 5+. Get involved in your community and help make our park and city beautiful. This is a trash pick-up project at several sites throughout the city and parks around the community.

Cost: Free

Where:
Washington Terrace Park
101 Gordon Street
High Point, NC  27260
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An event for the whole family.  Lots of food, arts, crafts and pony rides in a beautiful setting in front of Spring Arbor Assisted Living. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Spring Arbor Assisted Living
5125 Michaux Road
Greensboro, NC  27410
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Sponsor: The Original Made by Hand in the Triad
Telephone: 133-688-03060
Contact Name: Mary Thompson Jordahl
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Come out to the Triad's biggest pregnancy, baby and parenting expo, Pregnant In The Piedmont!  Over 50 vendors focused on all things pregnancy, baby, and parenting.  Free activities...

Cost: Free

Where:
Novant Health Forsyth Medical Ctr. Conference Ctr.
3333 Silas Creek Pkway
Winston-Salem, NC  27103
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Sponsor: Piedmont Doulas
Telephone: 336-448-4114
Contact Name: Becky Hale
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High Point Friends School’s Art Committee is currently establishing its first annual art show called Art-A-PaloozA. With the help of students and staff, we aim to showcase our students’...

Cost: Free

Where:
High Point Friends School
800 A Quaker Lane
High Point, NC  27262
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Stokes Partnership for Children (SPC) will host the 16th annual Little Folks Festival, a school-readiness forum for young children and families, with a focus on early care and education, literacy,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mount Olive Elementary School
2145 Chestnut Grove Road
King, NC  27021
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Telephone: 336-985-2676
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Bring your K-5th grade children to this exciting day of fun, food and games.  EOGs are right around the corner, and we want our students to know their community supports them in their...

Cost: Free

Where:
Windsor Recreation Center
1601 E. Gate City Blvd
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Sponsor: BCDI-G
Telephone: 336-230-2138
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Kids Club members receive free admission to Kaleideum Downtown on the day of the event. Stop by the Kids Club Welcome Table to pick up stickers and take-home activity sheets. Say hello to...

Cost: Free for Kids Club members

Where:
Kaleideum Downtown
390 S Liberty St
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
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This year, The Edible Schoolyard at the Greensboro Children’s Museum is taking the plant sale across the street to LeBauer Park. We'll have a wide selection of veggie, herb and flower...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
LeBauer Park
208 N Davie St
Greensboro, NC  27401
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For Grades K-5. Lego Master Builders will be challenged to get creative, building a creation based on weekly themes. Only imagination is required to join the club

Cost: $2 per person per visit

Where:
Allen Jay Recreation Center
1073 E Springfield Road
High Point, NC  27263
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Parents, students and youth are welcome to attend weekly ‘Saturday Children’s Story Hour.’ Guests are invited to meet at the museum every Saturday at 11 a.m. to hear dynamic...

Cost: Free

Where:
International Civil Rights Center & Museum
134 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Sponsor: International Civil Rights Center & Museum
Telephone: (336) 274-9199
Contact Name: Nakia Hoskins
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Join friends and neighbors for this free community festival evoking a spring afternoon in the parks of Paris. Visitors of all ages can see Samuel F.B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre and the...

Cost: Admission is free for people and poodles of all ages.

Where:
Reynolda House Museum of American Art
2250 Reynolda Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27106
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Telephone: 336-758-5150
Contact Name: Reynolda House Museum of American Art
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Come out and meet your community members and first responders. There will be free food and gifts while supplies last. Join us for music, a bounce house, face painting, K9 demonstration, impaired...

Cost: Free

Where:
Creekside Park
214 Park Dr
Archdale, NC  27263
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Sponsor: Archdale Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 336-434-7314
Contact Name: Jocelyn Moon
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Parents, students and youth are welcomed to attend this weekly event. Guests are invited to hear dynamic leaders and educators from the community narrate stories and interact...

Cost: Free

Where:
International Civil Rights Center & Museum
134 S. Elm St.
GSO, NC  27401
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Sponsor: International Civil Rights Center & Museum
Telephone: 336-274-9199
Contact Name: Nakia Hoskins
Website »

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The Hayes-Taylor YMCA is holding a free community event to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active, especially during the summer. This year marks the 26th annual YMCA’s...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA
2630 East Florida St.
Greensboro , NC  27401
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Sponsor: Hayes-Taylor YMCA

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Join us in the park every Saturday for children's and family activities! Art classes, young yogi fitness classes, playtime, story time and weekly Saturday Kid's Klub events every...

Cost: Free

Where:
LeBauer Park
208 N Davie St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Website »

More information

Join friends and neighbors for this free community festival evoking a spring afternoon in the parks of Paris. Visitors of all ages can see Samuel F.B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre and the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Reynolda House Museum of American Art
2250 Reynolda Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27106
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids and families, come out on Saturdays for fun fitness games that test your endurance and laughter - Bubble Sports! Join us on the Great Lawn.

Cost: Free

Where:
LeBauer Park
208 N. Davie St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Meet at the bridge beside site #55 in the A Loop of the Family Campground for a program on insects that live in our mountain streams. Bring shoes and clothing that you can get wet. Weather...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stone Mountain State Park
3042 Frank Parkway
Roaring Gap, NC  28668
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We will be collecting non-perishable food items and monetary donations for the Clemmons Food Pantry. All movies will begin at sunset at the Jerry Long YMCA. Come early to enjoy the playgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jerry Long YMCA
1150 S Peace Haven Road
Clemmons, NC  27012
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Bring your family and join your neighbors and friends for a movie under the stars. We will be collecting non-perishable food items and monetary donations for the Clemmons Food Pantry. All movies...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jerry Long YMCA
1150 S Peace Haven Road
Clemmons, NC  27012
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Sponsor: Village of Clemmons
Telephone: 336-766-7511
Contact Name: Shannon Ford
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The Piedmont Chamber Singers' spring concert will celebrate images of nature, and include texts by poets Sara Teasdale, Odell Shepard, Henry Vaughan, and others. Our feature work will be...

Cost: $5-$25

Where:
Ardmore Baptist Church
501 Miller St.
Winston-Salem, NC  27103
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Sponsor: Piedmont Chamber Singers
Telephone: 336-722-4022
Contact Name: Scott Schumpert
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Prepare for a sidesplitting ride as the mullet-haired trio of hillbilly bumpkins Billy Joe, Billy Bob and Billy Billee bring "down home laughs with big city music" as they seek out fame...

Cost: $30-$35

Where:
High Point Theatre
220 E Commerce Ave.
High Point, NC  27260
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Join members of the Forsyth Astronomy Club for a look at the night sky. Begins at dark in the Family Campground. Meet in the field between campsites 33 and 34. We ask that you please use grass...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stone Mountain State Park
3042 Frank Parkway
Roaring Gap, NC  28668
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Take an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away as Nate Beversluis and the Greensboro Symphony guide you through space and time. You will not want to miss sci-fi favorites like Star Trek, Close...

Cost: $34 - $46

Where:
Westover Church
505 Muirs Chapel Road
Greensboro, NC  27410
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The Drama Center of City Arts presents “More Fun than Bowling,” a philosophical comedy by Steven Dietz. April 21-22, 27-29 at 8 p.m. and April 23 and 30 at 2 p.m. In “More...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Stephen D. Hyers Theatre
200 N. Davie St.
Greensboro, NC
View map »


Telephone: 336-335-6426
Website »

More information

Enjoy delicious carnival food, rides and more. Held in the Greensboro Coliseum parking lot, the Central Carolina Festival will feature an action-packed midway with thrill rides, games of skill and...

Cost: $5

Where:
Greensboro Coliseum
1921 W. Gate City Blvd.
Greensboro, NC  27403
View map »


Website »

More information

A frank, heartwarming and inspiring story about a contemporary Cherokee woman and her father who embark on an incredible 900-mile journey along the “Trail of Tears” to truly understand...

Cost: $16.01-$42.70

Where:
Hanesbrands Theatre
209 N. Spruce St.
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
View map »


Website »

More information

Follow the journey of two young siblings as they venture into an imagined world where all lost things go. Using a musical landscape and everyday objects, “Lost & Found” explores...

Cost: $7

Where:
Kaleideum Downtown
390 S Liberty Street
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
View map »


Website »

More information

Join the quest! Learn about energy – what it is, where it comes from, how we use it and why it’s so important to use it wisely. Conservation Quest® delivers important conservation...

Cost: Included with museum admission

Where:
SciWorks
400 W. Hanes Mill Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
View map »


Website »

More information

Based on J.M. Barrie’s classic tale and featuring an unforgettable score, Peter Pan is one of the most beloved and frequently performed family favorites of all time for 60 years....

Cost: $10-$30

Where:
Starr Theatre
Community Theatre of Greensboro
520 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC  27406
View map »


Website »

More information

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The all-new 2015-2016 Education Guide is packed with everything parents need to know to navigate more than 500 education options and resources in the Triad, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

GPS [Go. Play. See]

It's your complete family guide to Triad living. Parents are busy and on the go. Use this guide to help you explore all this great area offers for families in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and surrounding communities.

Exceptional Child

For parents of kids with special needs, finding help and support can be challenging. We've compiled valuable resources for Triad parents in our latest annual publication, Exceptional Child, which is also available as a digital guide.