Oct. 17-18, 2014 Walter B. Jones Park in Havelock is the place to be for the first taste of gourmet chili, wings, free music, lots of vendors and fun at the Chili Festival. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point flies in a Pedro helicopter for static display both Friday from 5...more about Chili Festival
Many Crystal Coast visitors find themselves stopping into Havelock, NC for military attractions like restored Harrier jets and the Croatan National Forest, but there are two events each year that are destinations unto themselves. Held every other year, the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Airshow is one of the largest events in all of Eastern North Carolina, complete with skydivers, air acrobatics and static displays of historical planes. Havelock holds several annual events during the year, however, autumn is the best time to find some "heated" competition with the town's annual Chili Festival.
Aviation lovers will certainly see their imaginations come alive in Havelock. As the home to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, the influence military planes have had on Havelock is hard to miss. Visitor’s driving through town can see two static plane displays from Highway 70. Located on the westbound side of the highway and in the middle of town you’ll find the static monument of an 8V-8A Harrier plane. Also located by the town’s 9/11 Memorial and the Public Safety Center, this iconic image of Havelock has been a mainstay of the town since 1986 and is even located on the town seal.
Havelock’s more recent addition of the Havelock Tourist and Event Center brought even more military monuments to the city’s main thoroughfare. Located on the eastbound side of Highway 70, just in front of the Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express, an 8-6E TRAM Intruder marks the gateway to the town’s Aviation Exhibit on Tourist Center Drive. Located at the end of this street you’ll find three more planes outside the tourist center, including a F9F-6P and RF-4B Phantom II, which were both used for photo reconnaissance, and an A-4 Skyhawk that was commonly used for supporting missions during the Vietnam War. Of course, these planes are only part of the exhibit, which continues inside the Tourist Center with a bi-plane known as an F4B-3 and several rotating exhibits of planes, photographs and other historic moments in Havelock’s aviation history.
Havelock’s most recent attraction is the 9/11 Memorial, located on Highway 70 between the Havelock Police Department and the Harrier monument. Erected on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the 9/11 monument consists of a charred beam from the World Trade Center that’s surrounded by four sections representing two planes from the World Trade Center, one from the Pentagon and one from Shanksville, Pa. Once you stop to remember that Havelock is a military town that was greatly involved with the subsequent U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the inscription carved into the side of the 9/11 monument carries more weight. It simply reads: “We Shall Never Forget.”
From the town’s newest attraction we move to a family favorite that’s actually older than the town itself – The Croatan National Forest. The national forests and Neuse River that surround Havelock have a reputation for great camping, fishing, boating and hunting that was even recognized by legendary baseball player, Babe Ruth. From a weekend at Flanners Beach to a day hiking the Neusiok Trail, Havelock has plenty of outdoor fun to offer at just about anytime of the year.
It’s no secret that Havelock has a lot to compete with when it comes to drawing visitors. To the west it has historic New Bern, to the north the sailing capital of Oriental and to the east, North Carolina’s prized Crystal Coast beaches. But even among all that competition, there’s no doubt that Havelock has several attractions that are worth a trip all their own.