Thinking about hosting a community event?

  Do it in Downtown Smithfield and apply for the JEM grant to help with advertising costs!

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 Join us for the 14th annual Downtown Smithfield Wine Walk on Friday, April 26th and toast to the start of the beautiful spring season with wine tastings at different participating businesses!

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There's a lot going on this year in Downtown Smithfield!  Check out our calendar of events and make sure you go ahead and save all of these dates!

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At the Third StrEATery, we close the street, bring in great entertainment and activies, set up tables and chairs, and encourage you to get takeout from downtown restaurants or one of the food trucks and drinks from a local brewery or winery on site!  It's a fun, laid back night out in Smithfield!

Click here for more information about our 2023 Third StrEATery series!

The Ham & Yam Festival began in 1985 as a challenge from Johnston County ham producers to the ham producers of Smithfield, Virginia. When the North Carolina hams kept winning, the Virginia producers stopped coming, but the festival has continued as a celebration of the area's agricultural history.

Festival attendees can find many varieties of hams and yams at the festival - country ham biscuits, baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato funnel cakes, sweet potato souffle ice cream, and more! 

The festival hosts the "What's That Yam Thing?" contest, a favorite for school-aged children given the opportunity to turn sweet potatoes into works of art.  Visitors wander through the festival area filled with hundreds of booths occupied by face painters, local non-profit organizations, and vendors selling items including garden flags, kitchen tools, handmade jewelry, and many other arts and crafts. The family event keeps crowds entertained with performances on multiple stages, children's games, and inflatables.  For more information, visit

Held each June, the 301 Endless Yard Sale has become a spectacular event for dealers and shoppers, attracting visitors from across the country and even Canada. Shoppers will find the usual yard sale items like clothes, kitchen gadgets, vintage records, and toys to the truly unique items like old farm equipment and maybe even a boat!

With 301 running through the east end of Downtown Smithfield, the DSDC works to encourage shoppers to visit Downtown Smithfield to eat in our unique, locally owned restaurants and shop in our retail stores. We look forward to welcoming visitors downtown June 16 and 17, 2023, and hope that everyone will join us for our June 16 Third StrEATery featuring Rhythm Express!

For more information about the 301 Endless Yard Sale, visit their website.

Held the Sunday before 4th of July, Smithfield's Independence Celebration always features a great fireworks show and brings the community together!  Come early for the live entertainment, food, and activities!  The fireworks begin after dark.  Click here for more information, and join us on Sunday, July 2!

Two-person teams in boats built entirely from cardboard, duct tape, and glue race down the Neuse River during the River Rat Regatta!  Spectators watch on from the banks of the river, cheering at the teams paddling their way the 1/4 mile down the river from the Boat Ramp to the Neuse River Amphitheatre at Town Commons.

Awards are given to the fastest 1st-2nd in the Youth and 1st-3rd in the Adult divisions, overall Best Decorated, and the Titanic Award for the Most Memorable Sinking.  For more information about the 2023 River Rat Regatta, set for August 12, click here.


The Ava Gardner Festival held annually in October celebrates the extraordinary life of Smithfield native Ava Gardner.  With heritage tours, film showings, and special exhibits, each festival offers something new for Museum visitors to see and learn about the Hollywood starlet.  For more information about the Ava Gardner Festival, please click here.

Held in Downtown Smithfield's historic Riverside Cemetery, the Johnston County Heritage Center's Ghost Walk tells the stories of some of Johnston County's most famous (and infamous) former residents.

The 2023 Ghost Walk will be held Thursday, October 26.  Check back soon for more information.

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Calling all witches, gobilins, and ghouls!  You're invited to the Downtown Smithfield Candy Crawl from 4-6pm on Friday, October 27!   In partnership with our downtown businesses, the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation is hosting trick-or-treating for costumed participants in Downtown Smithfield.  A list of participating businesses and more information will be available in October.



Each fall, the Junior Women's League of Smithfield's Touch-A-Truck brings emergency vehicles, tractors, construction equipment, and more cool trucks to Downtown Smithfield as they raise funds to meet community needs.  

JWL's 2023 Touch-A-Truck is being planned for Saturday, November 4!  Touch-A-Truck allows children (of all ages) an opportunity to see, touch, and safely explore their favorite big trucks and heavy machinery, as well as to meet the personnel that build, protect, and serve Johnston County communities.  

For more information about Touch-A-Truck, visit the Junior Women's League of Smithfield's website.

Hosted by the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation and the Smithfield Parks & Recreation Department, the Smithfield Christmas Tree Lighting, always held on the first Thursday in December, is when our Town lights up for the holidays!

The Tree Lighting begins with Santa Claus and the Mayor leading a countdown and flipping the switch to light our tree.  There are performances from local choruses, bands, and dance groups, fun games and activities provided by local organizations and businesses, and the Candy Cane Lane Dessert Food Truck Rodeo.  This event offers something for the entire family to get in the holiday spirit!  

Downtown Smithfield is especially magical in December, when the storefronts are beautifully decorated for Christmas and the Town decks the halls for the season!  The DSDC hosts Christmas Carriage Rides to give people a chance to enjoy the twinkling lights around our festive downtown! 

Free Christmas Carriage Rides will be offered in 2023 from 5-8pm on December 1, 8, 15, and 22.  Reservations are required; for more information click here.

The carriages can typically accommodate groups of 4-6, depending on the carriage and the size of the riders.  Carriage rides typically last about ten minutes. 

Have dinner downtown before or after your carriage ride at one of our fantastic restaurants! Do some shopping! Take in a movie or visit some of our wonderful attractions!

Santa Claus returns to visit with children in his Downtown Smithfield Workshop each December!

Despite Santa's busy schedule getting ready for Christmas, he is usually able to join us for a few hours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in December.  Space is limited, so reservations are strongly recommended, and without a reservation, you will have to wait until Santa is available.  Make your reservation by clicking here!

While you're downtown visiting Santa, we hope that you will do some Christmas shopping, and visit our restaurants and attractions! 

Thank you to Leonard Buildings & Truck Accessories for providing Santa's Workshop each year!


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The Town of Smithfield's Christmas is always held on the second Thursday in December, when people line Market Street to see the festive entries!

The Smithfield Parks & Recreation Department plans the parade, which marches down Market Street from Sixth Street to Second Street.  The Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation emcees the parade, annoucing entries as they pass by.

As a Main Street America Affiliateâ„¢, the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation is part of a national network of more than 1,200 neighborhoods and communities that share both a commitment to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.
Community ms vertical color logoSmithfield is a North Carolina Main Street community, designated by the N.C. Department of Commerce Main Street & Rural Planning Center. The Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation is charged with administering the program at the local level and building public-private partnerships to spur economic development that achieves measurable results such as investment, business growth, and job creation.