“Hey, you want to go to Acid Park?”
Thats what I heard in the 90’s at a party in the sleepy little Raleigh Suburb I grew up in. A case of beer, a half a tank of gas and an hour later we were there. We came around a curve and the night lit up. Reflectors everywhere, in trees, on fences and some of them were moving. The mobile ones were attached to goliath metal structures that loomed overhead like the Iron Giant. Why did someone make this place? That’s when I was told the biggest lie I’ve ever heard. I wont repeat it, there’s no need to perpetuate idiocy, it all boils down to people cant wrap their heads around the fact that a man did this just because he wanted to. It was my first introduction to the the place of legends, all false by the way, drunken college tales passed from peer to peer, each adding their own twist.
I visited the site at least 3 more times at night as a beer toting bystander and a purveyor of the Myth but the first time I ever truly saw it was just last year, when as an Adult I went in the daylight. WHY, oh WHY does everyone come at night? The reflectors I presume and it adds to the myth but there were colors, textures, contrast and whimsy. None of which could be witnessed under a neon moon. I was blown away, again, and more than before. Those moving reflectors I had seen so many years ago were attached to Whirlygigs.
The massive structures that loom overhead like raw metal towers were breathtaking. Parts were recognizable as old street signs, blower motors and squirrel cages. Across the dirt path I heard a grinding wheel, could this be? Is the man responsible for all this still around? That’s when I met the man, the myth, the legend. Vollis Simpson. Hes everything you expect him to be and absolutely nothing hes not. I spent about 2 hours there talking to Mr. Simpson about everything from politics, college basketball (hes a Duke Fan) and his work. He loves to talk about anything but his work. After the PBS documentary and New York Times article about him hes a bit bumfuzzled in his popularity. He has been labeled as a Outsider Artist and his small pieces command $150. to $400. During my visit he was working on a $25,000 12 foot tall piece of a man on a unicycle. He’s there at his shop on most Fridays and Saturdays. If you are ever in the Wilson NC area I urge you to visit. Stop by Bills BBQ, another local legend, at least according to my belly.
Vollis Simpson’s Whirligig FARM & SHOP (THE ORIGINAL LOCATION OF THE WHIRLIGIGS) is located at the intersection of Wiggins Mill and Vollis Shop Road in Wilson, North Carolina.
Many of the structures have been moved to the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park located at the intersection of Goldsboro and South Streets in Downtown Wilson. North Carolina. Plese visit the OFFICIAL SITE for more info and DONATE to save these treasures.