Triangle East: 4 Steps to a Perfect Summer

Main art is boating on Lake Benson.

Submitted pics of flip flops, bbq sauces and bands at X:\Cary Magazine\Cary Mag EDIT\Editorial 13\June July\pics for J-J TE

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy, songwriter George Gershwin proclaimed.

If you’re looking for an easy-breezy season, you won’t have to stray from home: It seems Garner has all the ingredients for a perfect summer …

1. Better than Barefoot

With a motto that’s evolved to “Beyond Comfortable,” flip flop company Feelgoodz has its distribution site in Garner and sells the shoes from its downtown Raleigh storefront, The Treehouse, just minutes away, and at Whole Foods Markets.

“People slip on our flopz and go ‘wow,’ said Feelgoodz inside sales manager Jennifer DeSimone. “Being that they are made from natural rubber, the footbeds mold to your feet, giving you a perfect fit for your foot.”

Mark Saad of Garner is CFO of Feelgoodz, following a merger with Kinder Soles, the company he founded. Kyle Berner is founder of Feelgoodz.

The Kinderz and Slim Kinderz lines of footwear are veggie tanned with built-in arch supports, while other lines are veggie dyed.

And the story gets even better: Feelgoodz works with fair-wage cooperatives and artisans worldwide to bring the product to market.  

The flopz, currently available in six styles, are made in Vietnam; a new line from Guatemala will be available in July.

“We also have an eco-conscious aspect to our shoes,” DeSimone said. “We use only 100 percent all-natural materials that are safe for people and for the environment. We are looking into ways to consciously up-cycle or compost the flops once people are through using them.” 

2. Play Outside

Sunshine beckons us outdoors — so in addition to Garner’s hundreds of acres of award-winning parkland for hiking and biking, what’s to do without leaving town or spending a bundle? Plenty!

Here are a few ideas; we know you can take it from here.


Float a Boat: Paddle or motor to your heart’s content on beautiful Lake Benson, in a rented jon boat or canoe. Open to boaters ages 16 and up, with half-off discounts for seniors, an outing also offers bass and catfish fishing, and the chance to glimpse a frequent lake guest, the American bald eagle.

The Boathouse is open Fridays and Sundays from noon to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Rental fees start at $4 per hour.



Boogie Down: Go dancin’ in the streets, thanks to the Music off Main Downtown Concert Series, presenting artists with local roots at free concerts on the back lawn of GPAC (that’s the Garner Performing Arts Center for you newbies.)

Up this month are rockabilly-ist Mike MickXer on June 6, and Motown sound The Band Heartbeat on June 20. For the full schedule, see

P.S. — Check out Market on Main on concert nights too, for shop-local shopping fun!



Ball Games: Take yourself out to the ball game this summer, as Garner Baseball Inc.’s end-of-season tourney runs June 3-8, with championship games played on June 8.

“And GBI will host the PONY Baseball Pinto Division Piedmont Region All-Star Tournament from July 5 through July 7,” noted GBI President Johnny Banks. For game specifics, see


Free Movie: Nighttime doesn’t drive Garner-ites indoors! Gather the kids for a free moonlight showing of Madagascar 3 on a 30-foot screen at Lake Benson Park, on June 14 at 8:30 p.m.

Bring your chairs and blankets; coolers are welcome too, and concessions are available. Or bring a tent to camp out after the movie, for $12 per family! Pre-register by calling (919) 773-4442.


Indoor Fun, Too: See small stars shine, as the junior version of the Towne Players of Garner present their summer show, Disney’s Mulan Jr., Aug. 8-10 at GPAC.

Based on the 1998 film, this action-packed tale of the brave girl who sets out to save China’s emperor will be brought to life by the Towne Players’ Teens & Kids.


3. Get Saucy

When hot weather makes you hungry to fire up the grill, check out the offerings of two local sauce-ers for delicious results. 

Billy Bub’s BBQ Sauces & Dry Rubs, in business for just over a year, produces a Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce, and a gluten-free, sugar-free, preservative-free and low-sodium Texas Dry Rub for meats and seafood. 

“I’m not a fan of really thick sauces that cover up the meat,” said Bill Bullard, owner and CEO. Instead, he says a quality sauce not only tastes good when dipping, but will change taste when cooked on meat.    

“The sauce will cling to the meat and flavor it, but not mask the taste of your entrée,” Bullard said.

Available in 74 area stores, including Garner’s Carlie C’s and Lowes Foods at N.C. 50 and 42, the sauce earned second place in the 2012 Peak City Pig Fest in Apex, a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned contest. For more store locations, visit

Also locally based is the award-winning Nephews BBQ Sauce company, owned by J. Paul Abrams of Garner. The company is listed among the Top 100 BBQ Sauces of the World, at 

Abrams bills the tomato-based sauces as a gourmet line for grilling and glazing, infused with sweet fruit flavors and the spice of chili peppers, free of MSG, gluten and high fructose corn syrup.

With names like Cherry’potle, made with sweet cherries and smoky spicy chipotle pepper, and Haban’Orange, a blend of oranges and habanero chilies, we believe him.

“I believe a great sauce complements a dish and does not overpower it,” Abrams said, “to create a unique tasting experience you'll want to keep going back for.”    

Nephews’ sauces and rubs are available at the N.C. Farmers Market; see for more locations.

4. Fireworks!

Last but not least, summer just isn’t summer without the oohs and aaahhhs of fireworks.

As many areas cancel their Fourth of July festivities due to economic woes, Garner’s Independence Day Celebration remains a hit with kids and grown-ups too.

Held each July 3 at Lake Benson Park, the event draws more than 18,000 people annually and is Garner’s largest town-sponsored event, says Sonya Shaw, Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources director. 

“The town has maintained its tradition of hosting the event; this marks the 26th year of this celebration,” Shaw said. “Town staff have become very creative in grasping the idea of doing more with less, in order to maximize our opportunity to host this.

“This is the premier July 3rd celebration of Wake County and beyond.”

Excited attendees find their way annually to enjoy an evening of music, concessions, games and inflatables for the kids, before the sparks fly.

This year’s festivities will include entertainment from The Central Park Band, followed by an annual tradition — a lively, patriotic program performed by the North Carolina Symphony. Park gates open at 5 p.m., with shuttles available. 

“The Independence Day Celebration is a special event that continues bringing families, churches, community groups and agencies together each year,” Shaw said. “From the Symphony’s performance to the vendors selling roasted corn, the event captures the interests of our residents.

“And as the weather cools off for the performance of the Symphony, the energy of the event increases yet again to fill the skies with a spectacular fireworks show, to end the celebration,” she said. “These activities, along with the friendliness of event-goers, makes for a wonderful celebration!”

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