Looking for a ladies’ night out? The Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce’s Spring Ladies’ Night Out…& DAY event is giving women an opportunity for a whole day on the town on May 2.
The bi-annual event has been a Hillsborough favorite for over ten years, but this year organizers are expanding the event, scheduling programming for not only the evening, but also all day, and adding activities like museum tours and yoga classes.
“This year, we wanted the event to be even more women-centric, really celebrate women,” Hillsborough Merchants and Restaurants Chair Lindsley Bowen, who also serves as a Chamber ambassador for downtown merchants and restaurants said. “So we added daytime events that show off different sides of the town, and that show how women can experience Hillsborough culturally, in addition to shopping here.”
By expanding the event into the daytime, Bowen and other organizers hope to reach a larger audience of women — those who work during the day can attend at night, those with their evening tied up can attend during the day and those who want to take a full day to themselves can do that.
The day will begin at 10:15 a.m. with an Ayr Mount Garden and Grounds Ramble led by Master Gardener Dana Dannehower. Next, attendees can choose to take an Ayr Mount home tour or a free 30-minute yoga lesson at Santosha Space.
These activities are followed by a range of options — women can attend a Women in Art event at Margaret Lane Gallery, tour Orange County Historical Museum’s new Barbie vs. GI Joe special exhibition and take a Capital Ford- sponsored shuttle between downtown Hillsborough and West Hillsborough for various dining and shopping events, including a talk by Paws at the Corner Owner Lisa Wells on how to care for aging pets.
“I’m excited for the Barbie Vs. GI JOE tour and the facilitated discussion following it,” Bowen said. “I think it’ll be a time when ladies attending can discuss our femininity and also our power and presence.”
The classic ladies’ night out events will begin at 6 p.m., when women can sign in at Hillsborough Wine Company and receive a swag bag.
There are two highlights of the day and evening’s activities — a luncheon at the Orange County Public Library with Hillsborough Poet Laureate Dee Stribling and the bi-annual hat contest, accompanied this year by a prize basket raffle, at the end of the night.
Stribling will discuss her poetry and process at the luncheon while attendees eat a catered lunch that costs $5 per person. All proceeds will benefit the non-profit Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC).
The hat contest will be held at King Street Bar and will feature a catwalk and prizes for best vintage, best outrageous and best sophisticated hats. The night will end with raffling off a prize basket worth over $1300. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for the contest all evening at $2 each, with all ticket sales going to OCRCC as well.
This is the first time the event has partnered with a non-profit.
“This is what should be happening and this is how things should be working,” Chamber Communications and Member Services Specialist Amy Wilmoth said. “The merchants, local non-profits, the chamber and Hillsborough tourism are all working together.”
Hillsborough’s economic development planner, Shannan Campbell, joined in the chamber’s efforts to plan and popularize the day, creating flyers and posters and publicizing the event on tourism website and social media pages.
She said the event is important to her personally as a chance for women to take some time off.
“I’m a working mother and it’s so good to take that time for yourself, and to have restaurants and shops open early or stay open late for you,” Campbell said.
With Hillsborough’s convenient location to many cities in North Carolina, women often travel to the event from Durham, Chapel Hill, Winston Salem and other cities to meet up with girlfriends and family members who don’t live in the same city.
Organizers are expecting 300-plus women this year from locations around North Carolina, ranging from college-age women to senior citizens.
“We’ll see groups of girlfriends and groups from neighborhoods come out, but also women across generations— daughters, mothers, grandmothers,” Wilmoth said.