Tour Your Town: Holly Springs

North Carolina is among the fastest growing states in the nation, but Holly Springs can beat that: This town’s population has grown from 908 people to some 26,000 since 1990.

A blend of new Southern elegance and aged picket fences, Holly Springs has a culturally diverse population drawn by high-tech jobs at the Novartis pharmaceutical firm here, or at companies in nearby Research Triangle Park.

Jim and Holly Evans and their children are among these career-related newcomers, arriving from Tallahassee, Fla., last summer. They’ve fallen in love with their new community.

“It’s great! We love it, and already can’t imagine not living here,” Holly said.

“In a nutshell, it’s location, location, location,” agreed Chris “Scoop” Green, executive director of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce. “We still have land available for purchase and to build on, and businesses are coming here because people are building and selling homes. It’s a great area.”

Apart from the business of life, there’s fun to be had in Holly Springs via local attractions and festive traditions. The launch of a new town website last month,, makes it easier to keep up with happenings, and allows guests to subscribe to local calendars.

The community spirit is found year-round in events such as TurtleFest, a celebration of the reptilian hard-shell, or the Independence Day Celebration always held on July 5, complete with bike and wagon parade, potato sack races and of course, fireworks.

The Holly Springs Cultural Center is the downtown star of year-round entertainment. Opened in 2006, the complex includes a 186-seat performing arts theatre, exhibition lobby and outdoor concert stage.

This season, the Cultural Center boasts the Clean Comedy Series, Homegrown Series of regional artists, Summer at the Springs concerts and the Great Performance Series featuring notables like Livingston Taylor and Earl Klugh. See complete schedule on the new town website.

Little ones love the Carolina Puppet Theater appearing here twice monthly, starring yellow-haired hockey fan Bartlett.

Downtown is also home to the Leslie-Alford-Mims House, which endured a two-week occupation by Union troops during the Civil War and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dog Day in the Park is held each fall, with contests such as Dog & Owner Who Look Most Alike. The fest takes place at Parrish Womble Park, a former tobacco farm now boasting a fishing pond, horseshoe pits and volleyball court.

Holly Springs’ parks and greenway system also includes the 90-acre Bass Lake Park, offering boat and fishing gear rentals, scenic hiking, “owl prowls,” and moonlight canoe trips.
Bass Lake Park sports a retreat center for meetings and events, and is popular as a bridal venue.

“Highlights of the year also include HollyFest, our fall festival in Womble Park,” added Mark Andrews, Holly Springs’ public information officer; HollyFest features rides, music, arts, a 5K race and fireworks.

“The other big event of the year is the Happy Holly Days Christmas Parade along Main Street. The night before the parade is Main Street Christmas, which ends with the tree lighting on the lawn of Holly Springs Cultural Center,” he said, following downtown hayrides and visits with Santa.

You don’t have to wait for a festival to have fun: Even an everyday haircut at the three-chair Holly Springs Barber Shop is entertaining.

The only barber shop in town, it’s housed in a 1940s post office and is “puppy, child and female friendly,” said owner Trish Andrus. From straight razor and hot towels to styling for the whole family, customers can play checkers, enjoy playrooms and mingle with canine mascot Mystery.

Nearby, the new W.E. Hunt Recreation Center, completed in 2011, is a home for fitness, kids’ camps and more.

“The opening of the much-anticipated W.E. Hunt Recreation Center allows our Parks and Recreation Department to expand its program offerings and to provide those programs in a facility designed for them,” said Andrews. “An elevated track enables walkers and joggers to exercise year-round in climate-controlled comfort.”

“The W.E. Hunt Center offers citizens a truly state-of-the-art facility at a reasonable price,” added Dick Sears, mayor of Holly Springs since 2001. “The playback from everyone has been very positive.”

The community center also features well-furnished fitness and game rooms, yoga and Pilates.

Baseball is big here too: Holly Springs High earned 2011 4-A championships in both baseball and fast-pitch softball, the only school to win both titles in the same season. The town is also headquarters to the Coastal Plain League, a tri-state collegiate summer baseball league led by father-son team Pete and Jeff Bock.

Holly Springs goes farm-fresh each Saturday from May through October at the producers-only Farmers Market. Beyond produce, meat and specialty foods are local artisan wares, the Beets & Jams music series and Little Sprouts Activity Center for kids. And a farm-to-table chef series means something is always cooking at the market.

Prefer someone else do the cooking? No problem.

Noteworthy stops include Homegrown Pizza where owners Dan and Kim Henry have been dishing out scratch-made pies for a decade, served in a cozy brick-walled dining room or on the patio.

Bass Lake Draft House has 34 beers on tap, an extensive menu and ongoing events, while My Way Tavern sports a horseshoe bar made of wood reclaimed from a 150-year-old barn and an all-American menu.

Or, head to Holly Springs Business Park for a Saturday morning tour of family-owned Carolina Brewing Company.

New to town is Niche Wine Lounge, featuring weekly tastings and a neighborhood feel with art gallery and fireplace.

The Little Hen is Holly Springs’ new date night place, offering all-local food sourcing and a seasonal menu. And swing by Southern Roast Coffee Company any time of day, for pastries, sandwiches and beverages like White Lightning Razmatazz.

Food, festivals and fun all come together to create the quality of life that continues to draw new residents and visitors, Mayor Sears says.

“Our goal for approximately 10 years has been to be part of creating a ‘big, small town’ with a sense of community that affords our citizens the opportunity to find all their wants and needs in our town limits. Significant progress is being made,” he said.

“Remember, in 1990 Holly Springs was a town of less than 1,000 citizens. Today we are approximately 26,000 and have gone from around 90 percent rooftops and 10 percent commercial to closer to 75/35, and that is part of the plan. As the wife of one of our board members recently stated, ‘Holly Springs is a magical town.’ I certainly agree.”

For More Information, Visit:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *