Ava Gardner was studying to be a secretary at the Atlantic Christian College when 12-year-old Thomas Banks met her while playing at the school's campus in 1940. A year later, the young boy learned his friend had signed a movie contract with MGM to become a movie star. From then on, he collected newspaper clippings and memorabilia tracing her film career, from her breakout role in 1946's The Killers to her lauded work in 1953's Mogambo with Clark Gable. Tom and Ava remained friends over the years, and, at her request, he unveiled his collection—more than 50 years in the making—in 1979 in Smithfield, her birthplace and eventual resting place.
Tom amassed more than 20,000 artifacts from Ava's career and private life, which now, among other pieces, fill the 6,400-square-foot Ava Gardner Museum. Among movie posters and awards stand the silk satin cape that Ava wore in publicity shots for The Barefoot Contessa and the black dress she donned in The Great Sinner. Her personal items include china, jewelry, 40 portraits of her by Bert Pfeiffer, and the engraved watch she gave to her third husband, Frank Sinatra. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum celebrates the starlet with its annual Ava Gardner Festival, which includes screenings of her classic films and heritage tours.
Cleaved into the rolling bluffs of the Carolina countryside, The Country Club of Johnston County's 18-hole, Ellis Maples–designed course encompasses 6,573 yards of well-groomed fairways and greens. Dense tree lines guide clubbers across the picturesque par 72, obstructing shots as players attempt to keep orbs on fairways that dog-leg and kitty-purr their way toward distant greens. Ponds dot the emerald landscape on four different holes, threatening ill-struck orbs and foreshadowing eventual retreats to the Club's outdoor pool. The stately complex keeps guests energized with a menu of savory grill fare, while outdoor tennis courts sate appetites for loose yellow fuzz. A dazzling banquet hall stands at the Club's epicenter, where reunited friends and wedding parties can enjoy a warmly lit ballroom, dance floor, and bar.
Course at a Glance: * Designed by Ellis Maples * 18-hole, par-72 course * Length of 6,573 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 71.9 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 132 from the farthest tees * Four tee options
Nestled on sprawling, tree-lined terrain, Black Creek Hill Farms cultivates horse-human friendships with lessons for students of all experience levels and guided trail rides through local landscapes. The full-service stable is owned and operated by experienced horsewoman Brenda Jernigan, whose love of and dedication to horses has been evident since she was born with one in her hand.
Her experienced guides, both equestrians since childhood, spearhead expeditions into the pond-spotted wilderness, starting with basic equine etiquette for those who have never ridden a horse. They also conduct lessons at the homestead, tailoring each session to individual skill and comfort level and teaching fundamentals such as grooming and affixing saddles onto steeds or little brothers. Therapeutic rides can accommodate special needs, varying in length based on riders' attention spans, and summer camps enthrall kids with crafts, companions, and the nurturing presence of horses.
Within Tag Ur It’s family-owned indoor play center, youngsters glide down slides, rock atop spring horses, and leap about in bounce houses. After emerging from the inflatable obstacle course, kids scamper off to the arcade to battle fictional opponents or challenge their less-pixilated playmates to rounds on the mini-golf course, bouts in the laser-tag arena, and bean-bag flinging at the corn-hole station. Along with open-play sessions, Tag Ur It accommodates guests with a trio of birthday-party packages where up 20 children can enjoy a two-hour party block.
You slide into the starting position, gripping the rope. For a moment, your eyes wander, surveying the white sand beaches and clear waters that surround you. High on a mast above, a cable carrier hooks the other end of your rope?with a tug, you launch into the water. Without the hum of a boat's outboard motor, you're free to concentrate on the sound of your wakeboard cutting the water's surface as you prepare to lift out of the rippling waves and off the first jump.
This is the introduction wake-boarders and wake-skaters at Hexagon Wake Park receive when they set out on the flexible cable that winds through the Tucker Lake obstacle course at high speeds. In this controlled environment, instructors help riders of all ages master the particulars of extreme water sports, such as how to stand and when to give ducks the right of way. Beside the cable park, other visitors explore the open water aboard stand-up paddleboats and kayaks. Visitors can also explore beachside attractions such as water slides, rope swings, and inflatable climbing structures.
Metro Dash pits athletes against their own limitations as they sprint through a 600-meter course dotted with 20 obstacles that test endurance and strength. High hurdles, balance beams, rope swings, and cargo nets impede the path as contestants—guts wrenching and muscles pounding—sprint to awaken their inner warriors. The Metro Dash staff stands by to control the flow of runners and penalize those who refuse to do an obstacle for fear of soiling their powdered wig.
Metro Dash staff members divide the race into waves, sending runners through the course to climb and crawl in their race T-shirts as spectators cheer on in support. They require runners in the Elite division to run the course a second time, totaling the scores for competition. After the race, awards for the top three cumulative male and female finish times will be announced. A portion of proceeds goes to benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation