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USA Baseball-Irish Classic logoThe USA Baseball-Irish Classic returns to Greater Raleigh for a second year this weekend, bringing in six teams for three packed days of early-season competition. USA Baseball and the University of Notre Dame have partnered again to create one of the premier events in the college baseball world this season. The event is presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

The 2014 field is headlined by last season’s College World Series champion University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Bruins, as well as the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Wolfpack–both teams are in Baseball America’s Top 10 to start the year. University of Michigan, Appalachian State University, Youngstown State University and host Notre Dame make up the rest of the strong field, creating one of college baseball’s signature events.

“I think you might be able to say, without knowing every preseason tournament out there, that this field is as strong as any other regular season tournament or NCAA regional,” Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki had to say of the competition.


Games will be played Fri., Feb. 28, through Sun., Mar. 2, at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary. NCSU will play Fri. and Sun. games on their home campus in Raleigh at Doak Stadium.

Sat. will feature four games in Cary, including almost 12 hours of baseball played and capped by powerhouses NCSU and UCLA going head to head on the main stadium field Coleman Field, which offers seating for 2,000 spectators.


The full schedule, courtesy of USA Baseball:

Fri. (Feb. 28)
Appalachian State vs. Youngstown State – 2pm (All times ET)
NCSU vs. Michigan – 3pm (Doak Stadium/NCSU)
Notre Dame vs. UCLA – 6:30pm

Sat. (Mar. 1)
Notre Dame vs. Youngstown State – 11:30am
Michigan vs. Appalachian State – 11:30am
Notre Dame vs. Michigan – 3pm
UCLA vs. NCSU – 6:30pm

Sun. (Mar. 2)
Notre Dame vs. Appalachian State – 11am
Michigan vs. UCLA – noon
NCSU vs. Youngstown State – 1pm (Doak Stadium/NCSU)

Tickets to games at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary can be purchased here (a weekend pass is $27 and day passes will be $12). Children under the age of 12 will be admitted free of charge.

Keep up and get involved with the event on social media using #IrishClassic and following @USABaseball and @raleighncsports on Twitter.


There are many events happening Thurs. and into the weekend at Greater Raleigh breweries.

Trophy Brewing Company is celebrating its one-year Anniversary on Thurs., Feb. 20. Trophy Brewing Company will be tapping a cask of a new brew called White Elephant, aged on figs, along with some very special kegs including Apple Brandy barrel-aged Best In Show, a brand new DIPA and two new Imperial Stouts aged in whiskey barrels. Its going to be a big evening at Trophy and it all starts at 3pm.

Trophy beerSadly, this weekend marks the last few pints of Gizmo Brew Works Hoppy Grounds Coffee Pale. This experimental brew made with Benelux coffee has been extremely popular. Don’t miss your chance to try this twist on a classic style. Gizmo Brew Works is also firing up the laser this Sat. from 1-5pm! Get your Gizmo Brew Works pint glass custom etched with the pint-glass etching laser, which was built in house. Plus, when you get hungry, Manna Concessions mobile food kitchen will be around all afternoon to feed you! Brewery tours are scheduled on Sat., Feb. 22, at 2pm, 4pm and 5pm.

This weekend, be sure to check out one of the newest breweries in Greater Raleigh, Fortnight Brewing Company, in Cary. It opened this week for regular business hours, selling pints and growlers to the public. Its official hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-8pm, Fri., 3-10pm, Sat., noon-1opm, and Sun., noon-6pm.

On Sun. for brunch, continue your beer tasting at White Street Brewing Company from noon-3pm at its Kegs and Eggs Sunday Brunch. Manna Concessions will be serving breakfast favorites, and White Street Brewing Company will be serving mimosas in the taproom in addition to their delicious brews.

Cheers to the weekend!

Written by local Foodie, Kristen. Follow her foodie adventures on Twitter!

The LEGO® KidsFest returns to Raleigh, Feb. 28–Mar. 2, 2014, at the Raleigh Convention Center. Once again, participants can expect all of the creative hands-on fun of LEGO building and interactive educational experiences together in this family event for children of all ages and builders of all skill levels and interests.

lego showfloorFrom individual building to family challenges, there is a lot to see and do at LEGO KidsFest. Held over three days, this travelling exhibit covers more than 150,000 square feet of space and offers five sessions (included in the price of admission), filled with activities and play areas including:

•  LEGO Model Gallery: Dozens of life-sized models made entirely from LEGO bricks
•  LEGO Master Builders: Live demonstrations and activities from professional LEGO builders
•  Brickscapes: Fantastic displays that combine lots of LEGO and DUPLO sets

Cruising Along Creation Nation•  Creation Nation: Build your own creation to add to a custom map of the U.S.
•  Race Ramps: Build your own custom car and race it down the ramp against friends and family
•  LEGO Games Arena: Roll the dice to play LEGO board games
•  Construction Zones: Creative free build, play and display areas
•  LEGO DUPLO: Younger visitors can explore imagination through building
•  Brick Pile: A gigantic pile full of LEGO bricks for creative play

NE5•  Monochromatic Builds: Bricks of a single color to foster group creativity
•  LEGO Retail and KidsFest Marketplace: Purchase LEGO and official KidsFest tour merchandise. Choose from a selection of LEGO Star Wars t-shirts, brick storage bins, KidsFest bracelets and the Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo (it actually picks up bricks).

NE4“What [my daughter] really liked most about the event was being part of the spectacle—participating in the group builds; competing in contests; and learning and creating with all the other kids,” said Sarah Lindenfeld Hall, who attended in 2011.

2014 activities also include:
•  LEGO Chima: Choose a tribe and test battling skills with the whole family
•  Art Gallery: Create and exhibit a personal masterpiece for all to see
•  LEGO Friends: Build for the five empowered friends from Heartlake City
•  LEGO Star Wars: Build and display a Star Wars model

“Any family who likes to be inspired, get hands-on and have fun together won’t want to miss LEGO KidsFest,” said Vince Rubino, LEGO events manager.

NE3On tour since 2009, nearly 500,000 people have attended a LEGO KidsFest. The Raleigh event runs Fri., Feb. 28, 4-8:30pm, and the weekend of Mar. 1 and 2 (on each day, session one runs 9am-1:30pm and session two runs 3-7:30pm). Tickets are still available for all sessions, although Sat. slots are filling fast. Tickets for children aged two and under are free; children three-17 and seniors 65+ are $20; and adults are $22.

Written by Creative Genius, Kristy. Follow her online.

Gringo A Go Go is one of the newest Mexican restaurants in downtown Raleigh’s Historic Oakwood district. The atmosphere is quirky with colorful decorations and artwork covering the walls. I sat at the bar with my friend Andrea for a drink and dinner. The drinks include traditional drinks you’d find at a Mexican restaurant like a margarita or a paloma.

We began our meal by ordering the guacamole and two different types of salsas, the chipotle and peanut. I especially enjoyed the guacamole, which was creamy with a great lime flavor. I usually like my guacamole to be a bit saltier, but my tortilla chips definitely provided that salty taste.

IMG_6461Gringo A Go Go’s food menu is very simple and goes back to the basics of traditional Mexican cuisine. The tacos remind you of something you’d receive from an authentic Mexican taco truck; meat, onions and cilantro. I tried three different tacos served on corn shells, the nopales, asada and pollo. The asada was my favorite, with tender and flavorful meat. My server convinced me to try the nopales, a cactus taco. This taco is served cold and I enjoyed it after adding some chipotle salsa to liven up the flavors.

IMG_6465But the burrito was the star of the show at Gringo A Go Go. For $8, Andrea had a hearty dinner. She ordered the carnitas burrito, filled with goodies like black beans and rice.

IMG_6467If you’re considering going to Gringo A Go Go, I recommend ordering a burrito filled with your favorite meat. Also, get to the restaurant before the dinner rush around 5-6pm, so you have lots of seating options!

Written by local Foodie, Kristen. Follow her foodie adventures on Twitter!

The Triangle Wine Experience will celebrate its 21st anniversary with a three-day culinary and wine event on Feb. 6-8, 2014. This Foodie celebration is held in Raleigh and brings together some of the country’s leading wineries and culinary experts. All proceeds from the three-day event will benefit the Frankie Lemmon School and Development Center, a non-profit, tuition-free facility that serves children ages three to five with special needs.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 12.26.59 AMThe Triangle Wine Experience includes winery dinners hosted on Thurs. evening, Feb. 6. This evening event pairs the Research Triangle Area’s hottest restaurants and chefs with some of the world’s finest wines. Some winery dinners are open to the public and tickets are still available for events hosted by Greater Raleigh chefs, including Midtown GrilleNina’s Ristorante and Poole’s Diner. The chefs and wineries are waiting to serve you an excellent meal paired with amazing wines. Purchase your tickets today before they sell out!

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 12.27.11 AMAnother event open to the public is the Triangle Wine Experience’s Sip, Shop and Sign. Retailers in Greater Raleigh will host participating wineries to showcase and sample their wines. This special event is a chance for customers to taste and buy wine, as well as have their bottles personally signed.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 12.27.25 AMThe grand gala and auction is a black tie event offering professional wine tasting, live and silent auctions and an evening full of dancing, drinks and entertainment. Although tickets are sold out for this event, you are still able to participate in the auction by placing an absent bid. Auction lots include extravagant events, fine wines and entertainment.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 12.27.34 AMVisit the Triangle Wine Experience’s website to purchase tickets and to get more information about participating restaurants and wineries.

Written by local Foodie, Kristen. Follow her foodie adventures on Twitter!

All photography credited to Nancy Thomas Photography.

kkc1Expect to see characters like Prince, Pac-Man, the Spartans and more at the Krispy Kreme Challenge (K2C) and the 2nd Annual Krispy Kreme Challenge Costume Contest, presented by, this Sat., Feb. 8!

If you’re not familiar with the Krispy Kreme Challenge, here’s the gist: What started as a challenge between ten friends quickly transformed into a tradition carried on by North Carolina State University students. This is the challenge: Run 2.5 from the North Carolina State University Memorial Belltower to Krispy Kreme in downtown Raleigh, chow down a dozen doughnuts and then run back another 2.5 miles. Soon after its beginnings, the Krispy Kreme Challenge began to capture national attention, and participation spread beyond just students to visitors of all ages, challenging the gastrointestinal strength of more than 8,000 competitors.

Over the past ten years, K2C has become about even more than a five-mile run and almost 11,000 pounds of doughnuts. Full of sugar-coated inspiration, runners have upped their game by adding costumes to the mix, taking running five miles dressed in running attire, to running five miles dressed in what may be a full-body, cardboard apparatus. Runners may also take it to the next extreme by pushing a prop or running while in proper formation (see Pac-Man group below). From pop-culture, to Hollywood favorites and, of course, doughnuts and coffee, these folks take running the Krispy Kreme Challenge to a “hole” new level. Registration for the run has closed, but if you didn’t get to register, you can still see all of the crazy costumes on Sat.! If you have registered for the run, sign up for the costume contest here!

Check out some of our favorite costumes from last year’s Costume Contest below!

e6badc0ae81bab1cfd221d51cec25518This Krispy Kreme delivery man was “Happy All Around,” pushing his delivery truck through the race!

c0000e3d9800e2d911aafd52dfd76abfThese gals were ready for their 8am pick-me-up from Krispy Kreme.

811ffeae6ce2010eec960b853e485092Can you believe that Pac-Man chased the ball for a full five miles, while also being chased by a ghost?


b6879a848a325fe3aa3aa4b67307a6ac…and we can’t forget Prince!

To see all 2013 K2C Costume Contest contestants, check out our Pinterest page!

This year marks the second year of the Krispy Kreme Challenge Costume Contest, presented by Sign up here, if you’re participating in the Krispy Kreme Challenge! The single division prize is a Nike+ Fuelband and Runner’s Swag Bag (a $150 value) and the group division prize is a $200 gift certificate for any Greater Raleigh restaurant (winner chooses the restaurant)! (See official rules here.)

Good luck!

Are you up for a nice run? How about downing a dozen doughnuts while you’re at it? It’s all in the name of a good cause. Krispy Kreme Challenge 2014 is Sat., Feb. 8, and it’s been a North Carolina State University tradition since 2004. Donating more than $374,000 to the North Carolina Children’s Hospital over the past eight years, this race begins at the North Carolina State University Memorial Belltower in Raleigh, spans 2.5 miles through downtown to the Krispy Kreme store at the intersection of Peace and Person Sts. (for a full dozen of the famous original glazed), then 2.5 miles back. And if you can do it within one hour, you’ve mastered the Krispy Kreme Challenge.

krispykremeFrom the Krispy Kreme Challenge Facebook page

“I think many more people can walk five miles than think they can,” said runner Tara Hill of Raleigh. She was looking for a new experience and ran with family and friends. “I would encourage everyone to try,” she said. And you don’t really have to eat all those doughnuts! “Just eat one, or don’t eat any,” said Raleigh’s Morgan Magdanz, a past participant.

The North Carolina Children’s Hospital is specially-designed to cater to the needs of children who are sick or injured and their families. Their mission is to provide the highest quality care to patients from all 100 counties in N.C., regardless of a family’s ability to afford the services. This state-of-the-art facility was designed with children in mind, providing conveniences and features such as a three-story play atrium designed to look like an outdoor park. In addition, the hospital has the state’s only fully-accredited hospital school, which keeps patients from kindergarten to 12th grade on top of their studies. Medical amenities include a newborn critical care facility, cardiac care unit, comprehensive cancer center and more.

The monies brought in by fundraisers and event participants help fund additional equipment and support services necessary in providing exceptional care, as well as innovative programs that aid in the treatment and care of children suffering from a wide range of illnesses.

Jared and Jasper Mark, both age 15, have run this race twice. They got involved when some of their friends signed up as volunteers; they thought it would more fun to run. “You don’t have to train to eat the doughnuts,” said Jasper, “although our mom [who ate some of the doughnuts for them] insists that’s what she was doing all winter!” By their second year, though, both boys ran and ate—and even downed a few extra for some friends who couldn’t handle it. “The best technique I learned was to squish them down, dunk them in water and shove them in,” said Jared, “and then keep moving.”

1013699_10153659681050587_125627151_nFrom the Krispy Kreme Challenge Facebook page

“One of the best parts was seeing all the crazy costumes some of the runners were wearing! It was so much fun!” said Jasper Mark. If you’re taking on the challenge, take on the additional challenge of competing in the 2nd Annual Krispy Kreme Challenge Costume Contest, presented by The single division prize is a Nike+ Fuelband and Runner’s Swag Bag (a $150 value) and the group division prize is a $200 gift certificate for any Greater Raleigh restaurant (winner chooses the restaurant).

Breaking it down: 2400 calories, 12 doughnuts, five miles, one hour. This event ‘epitomizes the test of physical fitness and gastrointestinal fortitude.’ Both Challengers and Casual Runners receive a nifty t-shirt and doughnuts. In order to place, however, a runner must be registered as a Challenger, consume said doughnuts and complete the race in the allotted time. “Training for this event would definitely include eating during your regular run,” said Hill. “But the energy level and fun atmosphere make it a must-try. It’s a fun addition to a city that has grown its running/racing community. What began as a college challenge has grown to an event talked about and hyped long before the starting line…and it’s for a great cause.”

Some advice from the Mark twins: get there early, get a good parking spot and a starting position up in front. You’ll have a better shot of getting on TV and you’ll beat the long lines for doughnuts down the road. It also helps to have a running partner who runs at your pace, or slightly above, so you can stick together in the crowd.

Jasper and Jared Mark at the finish line

Registration is $35 for North Carolina State University students, $42 for others, and there were 8,100 spots up for grabs when registration opened.

Written by Creative Genius, Kristy. Follow her online.

World Beer Festival Raleigh (Apr. 5) in downtown Raleigh’s Moore Square features more than 200 local and national craft brewers. World Beer Festival Raleigh will feature more N.C. breweries than ever before! I always enjoy meeting local brewers and discussing beer with other beer enthusiasts. There are two sessions available for general admission or VIP admission. The afternoon session is from noon-4pm and the evening session is from 6-10pm.

General admission for World Beer Festival Raleigh is $45. The price of the ticket includes a tasting glass with unlimited two-oz. tastings from more than 200 of the finest beers in the US. You will also get access into the Art of Beer Experience for beer ingredient samplings, pairings, educational seminars, a mini commercial brewery and more.

If you’re interested in purchasing the VIP admission for $90, you will get all of the perks of the general admission pass along with some other great benefits. For instance, there will be a VIP lounge located in beautiful Cobblestone Hall in City Market, with air conditioning and private bathrooms. Instead of access to the traditional buffet line like in years past, VIPs will have the opportunity to attend the traveling beer dinner. There will be a variety of stations where local chefs will be preparing dishes paired expertly with beer. Plus, you will receive a festival commemorative gift.

In Apr. of 2013, a group of beer lovers launched Gizmo Brew Works. Gizmo Brew Works inherited a two-barrel brew system, making it the smallest production brewery in North Carolina. However, Gizmo Brew Works has some big plans to expand, including several infrastructure projects that are in the works. In 2014, capacity will be boosted by adding several seven barrel fermenters allowing Gizmo Brew Works to more than double their capacity.

brewhouseGizmo Brew Works currently sells their delicious, boutique beers in 64-oz. growlers and on draft. You can find Gizmo Brew Works beer in retail establishments, restaurants and bars throughout Greater Raleigh. Tyler Cox, head brewer of Gizmo Brew Works is constantly thinking of unique recipes to create some of the most innovative beer in Greater Raleigh. For instance, Gizmo Brew Works recently partnered with Benelux Cafe to create a Black Stiletto Coffee Stout.

Most of the owners at Gizmo Brew Works are also engineers. Swing by the taproom to check out the infamous laser. The tinkerers of Gizmo Brew Works created a laser, which will etch their logo and your name in the bottom of your Gizmo Brew Works glass.

Gizmo LaserPay a visit to Gizmo Brew Works’s taproom to enjoy live music, tours and food trucks on the weekends. Check the Gizmo Brew Works website for more information about upcoming events. You’ll feel right at home at this relaxed N.C. brewery.

Written by local Foodie, Kristen. Follow her foodie adventures on Twitter!

“Let’s do the Time Warp again!” The Low Down Cheap Little Punks perform during the Rocky Horror Picture Show at Raleigh’s Rialto Theatre on the first, third and fifth Fri. of each month. The theater, recently renovated (built in 1942), still retains its original beauty, vintage recessed lighting and performance stage. The cult classic film is projected on the movie screen and serves as a backdrop for the actors (referred to as “regulars”) on stage.

Rocky Horror Picture ShowThose who have never experienced Rocky Horror in a theater with an audience and a live cast need to know that (1) this is not a horror film but a rock musical send-up of old science fiction and horror films and (2) this is a true audience participation flick. People yell back lines at the screen during the extended pauses between dialogue, dress up in costume and act out the film and throw props at various times. “It’s crude and rebellious, so perfect for teens. You weren’t cool if you didn’t go,” said Missy Farrow of Raleigh.

rocky horror
The movie stars Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon 
(with a cameo by Meat Loaf)

The show starts at midnight, but you are encouraged to arrive between 11:30pm and 11:45pm. Devotees often bring toilet paper, rice, toast, rubber gloves and other goodies–but you are specifically requested not to throw things at the screen, the lights or the cast. Hot dogs (and all meats), eggs, water guns and confetti are not allowed.

Audience participation was observed as early as the film’s first run in 1975; it initially bombed during limited engagements in seven of eight cities, but was later re-released as a midnight movie where the audience participation began to flourish. Indeed, a fall 2013 article in the News & Observer cited this franchise as still relevant and urging “shrewd observers to check their inhibitions at the door.”

“I think the show gives people a thrill they may not have access to in their everyday lives,” said Raleigh’s Amanda Winstead who met her husband there. “Publicly engaging in behaviors they’d never otherwise consider–tasteless humor, running around in underwear, naughty dancing–can give them the thrill of the taboo, as well as an exhibitionistic and voyeuristic tingle,” she said.

Chris Hulk 2Local enthusiasts pose at the Rialto (photo courtesy of Amanda Winstead)

At the Rialto, there are usually a very small number of people who will come in costume as a character, many more who dress in some form of unusual clothing and plenty in normal street clothes. Winstead advises people to keep an open mind and a friendly demeanor.

This particular production also offers theme nights a few times a year that are generally based on holidays or big movie releases. All audience members are welcomed to go in costume and participate in the mayhem. “The Halloween show was the best,” said Raleigh’s Christie Comer. “That was actually my first time going and it was packed.” Please visit the Punks’ Facebook page for calendar details.

Shannon Howell of Wake Forest says the most fun was being a people watcher and taking in all the craziness. “The running through the theater in your underwear was memorable,” she says. “We didn’t, of course, but let me just say, plenty did! Shocking and freeing to experience.”

Admission is $6 per person, cash only. Beer, wine and other concessions available, as are prop bags.

Written by Creative Genius, Kristy. Follow her online.


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