The Fire in the Pines Festival began as Fire in the Lakes and was first held in March of 2010 at the Boiling Spring Lakes Community Center. The festival was founded by Angie Carl, the Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Plain Fire and Restoration Manager at the time. The intent was the same as it is today- to raise awareness about the importance of controlled burning and educate the public about it’s relationship to the longleaf pine forest. The first festivals were successful but considerably smaller, attendance was at about 300.
The move to Wilmington at Halyburton Park in 2014 resulted in a change in the festival’s name to “Fire in the Pines Festival” to better reflect the purpose of the event. The time of year was also moved from the Spring to October during Fire Prevention Week to bring about more awareness. The move to Halyburton Park was a success with approximately 3,000 people attending in 2014, more than all the previous year’s attendance combined.
Angie Carl has always valued the need for people to better understand controlled fire and its role in the healthy forests in our area. She brought a curiosity to figuring out how to have the community come together and appreciate controlled fire. She was a powerhouse in getting the Fire in the Pines Festival off the ground and built this amazing event for the community with the community. Angie grew this festival, and the public’s fire awareness from a small festival in Boiling Springs Lake to the amazing event in the last few years at Halyburton Park.
The festival has grown into a free environmental event for the entire family featuring Smokey Bear, fire trucks and helicopters, live music, jugglers and magicians, wildlife, hayrides, face painting, arts & crafts, a scavenger hunt, food trucks, and a variety of local environmental organizations with interactive games and activities. The grand finale is a demonstration Controlled Burn! With intent to help grow the Festival and expand its outreach, the team of The Nature Conservancy and the NC Forest Service joined forces with Wilmington Parks and Recreation and the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust. Over the past several years, Educational Field Trips with school groups have been added, with students learning environmental and fire knowledge from experts in the field. Fire in the pines has grown, making it one of the local area’s favorite family festivals.
We have expanded the festival virtually with lots of activities and interactive knowledge. We hope to hold the festival live again someday and hope you will join us!