Lucama, North Carolina: Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs

The great wind-animated sculptures of Vollis Simpson, made of scrap metal and festooned with bicycle reflectors. Some stand 40 feet tall. Most will be moved to a park in nearby Wilson in late 2013.
Address:
Vollis Shop Rd, Lucama, NC
Directions:
3 miles from Lucama -- going toward Wilson on 301, go left at Klint's Korner (Radford Rd.). Two stops signs, left at the second one (Wiggins Mill Road).
Hours:
Most will be moved by late 2013.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights
Vollis Simpson dies. Vollis Simpson Dies, Whirligig Folk Artist
Whirligig maker Vollis Simpson (1919-2013) was a folk art institution in North Carolina. Roadsideamerica.com Report...
Lucama, North Carolina - Winds Of Change For Simpsons Whirligigs
Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs: For decades, handyman Vollis Simpson has been making giant "whirligigs" -- home-built junk-art contraptions designed to spin in the wind -- and mounting them on poles in a field next to his home in Lucama, North Carolina. [06/06/2010] Complete Story...

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Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs

Very few of the 30-some whirligigs are now on the Simpson property. He sold them to be refurbished and placed in Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, which is being built in the nearby town of Wilson.

[L. Hayden, 10/03/2014]

This is a work in transition, and may take several years. In Wilson, some of the whirligigs are installed in the park, and some are in a storage yard elsewhere in town, undergoing restoration.

Vollis in his workshop. Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs

Out there yesterday, and yes, Mr Simpson was in his shop, which is still full of smaller versions of his work. Hard to converse, as he is quite hard of hearing, but we had a nice conversation and purchased a whirligig.

This is my second visit, and it is obvious that his pasture full of creations will not be around too much longer. A number of the large whirligigs in the pasture have already been removed (though there are still plenty more to see). Mr Simpson is an amazing guy, and what he has accomplished is incredible.

Check out the City of Wilson website, or google Whirligig park, to see where his creations will (hopefully) end up. They have posted a diagram of the proposed park. Also visit the whirligig festival in Wilson in November.

[Whirligig Fan, 04/19/2011]
Vollis Simpson's whirligigs. Vollis Simpson's whirligigs

It was farther down the road than we expected, but there's no question you're in the right place when you get there -- gigantic whirligigs on the left side of the road. The gate looks locked and it's very heavy and hard to budge, but usually it's open and just needs to be lifted off the two prongs that hold it in place. Then you walk into a beautiful park next to a large pond and there they are astonishing!

Cross the lane and you'll probably find Simpson in his shop or just outside it, sitting in his chair with the Confederate flag pasted on the top and listening to Sean Hannity. Despite all that, he's a very sweet guy, very hospitable, and apologizing for not being able to show you around. Inside the shop are quite a few windmills and painted metal pieces for sale - we bought a windmill and a large metal disc with a bear painted on it (150 for the windmill and 20 for the bear, both from 2009). He insists on signing every piece in magic marker.

It's hard for him to walk now, but he's still working and still likes to talk to fans. It's great that the whirligigs will be preserved in Wilson, but they're perfect in their native location - if you possibly can, see them there. And then there's the likelihood of seeing Simpson himself, especially on a Saturday. Bring along a bag to collect the cans and bottles kids throw around the place - he does this cleanup himself, but it's hard for him. The trash is like a desecration.

[Fran McCullough, 08/22/2010]

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October 23, 2014

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