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North Carolina State Folk Art

Whirligigs   Adopted: June 26, 2013

Whirligigs, created by Vollis Simpson, became the official state folk art of the State or North Carolina when Governor Pat McCrory signed mega-symbol House Bill No. 830 on June 26, 2013.

The five other symbols made official by mega-symbol House Bill No. 830 included:


SESSION LAW 2013-189

AN ACT to adopt an official state fossil, frog, Salamander, marsupial, folk art, and art medium.

Whereas, some of North Carolina's official State symbols have been suggested by the State's school children after they have had history, science, social studies, or geography lessons related to North Carolina; and

Whereas, this year some of the suggestions range from the adoption of an official fossil to an official frog; and

Whereas, the State of North Carolina has a number of unique official symbols but does not have an official fossil, frog, salamander, marsupial, folk art, or art medium; and

Whereas, the megalodon shark is an extinct shark species that lived over 1.5 million years ago; and

Whereas, the megalodon shark may have reached over 40 feet in length and weighed up to 100 tons; and

Whereas, the megalodon shark had serrated, heart-shaped teeth that may have grown to over seven inches in length; and

Whereas, fossilized teeth of the megalodon shark have been found in North Carolina and throughout the world; and

Whereas, North Carolina and the Southeast region of the United States lead the world in amphibian diversity; and

Whereas, the pine barrens tree frog can be found in the Sandhills and Coastal Plain regions of North Carolina; and

Whereas, the pine barrens tree frog has been considered one of the most striking and beautiful frogs in the Southeast region of the United States; and

Whereas, the pine barrens tree frog by name reflects one of North Carolina's signature trees and ecosystems that have been a vital part of the State's economic, cultural, and natural history since colonial times; and

Whereas, North Carolina also leads the nation and world in salamander diversity, most notably in our Appalachian Mountains; and

Whereas, the marbled salamander is found throughout the State and is unique in that it is a charismatic, striking, chunky-bodied, fossorial amphibian, of which no two are exactly alike in color pattern; and

Whereas, according the North Carolina Wildlife Commission's 2005 North Carolina Wildlife Action Plan, the pine barrens tree frog and the marbled salamander have been identified as priority species for population monitoring and conservation in North Carolina; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is native to North Carolina and is the only marsupial found in North America; the female carries its underdeveloped young in a pouch until they are capable of living independently, similar to a kangaroo; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is one of the oldest and most primitive species of mammal found in North America; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is about the size of a large house cat with a triangular head; a long pointed nose; dark eyes; a long, scaly, prehensile tail; and short, black, leathery ears; and

Whereas, the Virginia opossum is nocturnal and lives in a wide variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, open woods, and farmland but prefers wet areas such as marshes, swamps, and streams; and

Whereas, at age 65, Vollis Simpson, a self-taught folk artist, began making giant windmills known as "whirligigs" at his home in Wilson, North Carolina; and

Whereas, Mr. Simpson's whirligigs have been exhibited at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, and at other locations, including New York, California, Canada, and England; and

Whereas, Mr. Simpson and details of his artwork have been featured in many national magazines and in several books; and

Whereas, the City of Wilson is developing the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park to display a large collection of these whirligigs in historic downtown, which will be a one-of-a-kind destination for visitors; and

Whereas, North Carolina's clay-rich soil has contributed to the State's pottery heritage; and

Whereas, the use of clay has grown from the State's early Native Americans making mostly utilitarian wares and European settlers continuing the traditions of their ancestors to today's potters designing pottery with utilitarian and aesthetic elements; and

Whereas, the pottery tradition continues to thrive in North Carolina, especially in the Seagrove area, which includes parts of Chatham, Lee, Moore, Montgomery, and Randolph Counties; and

Whereas, clay continues to be an important art medium contributing to the State's cultural, social, and economic prosperity; Now, therefore,

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. Chapter 145 of the General Statutes is amended by adding the following new sections to read:

§ 145-41. State fossil.

The fossilized teeth of the megalodon shark is adopted as the official fossil of the State of North Carolina.

"§ 145-42. State frog.

The pine barrens tree frog (Hyla andersonii) is adopted as the official frog of the State of North Carolina.

"§ 145-43. State salamander.

The marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum) is adopted as the official salamander of the State of North Carolina.

"§ 145-44. State marsupial.

The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is adopted as the official marsupial of the State of North Carolina.

"§ 145-45. State folk art.

The whirligigs created by Vollis Simpson are adopted as the official folk art of the State of North Carolina.

"§ 145-46. State art medium.

Clay is adopted as the official art medium of the State of North Carolina."

SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 20th day of June, 2013.

s/ Philip E. Berger
President Pro Tempore of the Senate

s/ Thom Tillis
Speaker of the House of Representatives

s/ Pat McCrory

Approved 4:24 p.m. this 26th day of June, 2013


"North Carolina General Statutes." North Carolina General Assembly. State of North Carolina. Web. 26 Mar 2014.

Avila, Marilyn, Susan Martin, Pat McElraft, and Roger West. "House Bill 830 / S.L. 2013-189." North Carolina General Assembly. The State of North Carolina, 06 Jun 2013. Web. 20 Jul 2013.

Additional Information

Whirligig Park: The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project is a partnership of Wilson Downtown Properties, Inc., the City of Wilson, Wilson Downtown Development, and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Wilson Whirligig Festival: The Wilson Whirligig Festival is an annual arts and crafts festival held the first full weekend of November in Wilson, N.C.

Lucama, North Carolina: Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs: Roadside America's entry for Vollis Simpsons Whirligigs in Lucama, North Carolina.

Whirligigs: Article about whirligigs from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official North Carolina state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.

The Art and Craft of Whirligig Construction
The Art and Craft of
Whirligig Construction

Gabriel R. Zuckerman

The Art and Craft of Whirligig Construction, by Gabriel R. Zuckerman. 96 pages. Publisher: Schiffer Publishing (July 1, 2007)

Over 50 color photos, 80 patterns and mechanical drawings, with clear, concise, step-by-step instructions, reveal all the reader must know to successfully create twelve original whirligig projects made from wood and/or metal, including imaginative, original designs that all will enjoy. Each project has been designed, built, and tested by the author to ensure success. The detailed text provides tips for simplifying layout and construction techniques, the proper use of bearings and balance to spin whirligigs in minimal wind, along with practical woodworking, metalworking, and decorating techniques. This book is a must for every craftsperson with a flair for things mechanical.

Whirligigs & Weathervanes: A Celebration of Wind Gadgets With Dozens of Creative Projects to Make
Whirligigs & Weathervanes
David Schoonmaker
Bruce Woods

Whirligigs & Weathervanes: A Celebration of Wind Gadgets With Dozens of Creative Projects to Make, by David Schoonmaker, Bruce Woods. 128 pages. Publisher: Sterling Publishing Company; 1st edition (December 31, 1992)

Easiest whirligig book to understand - "A delightful collection of projects for creative students and beginning woodworkers, illustrated with large, full-color photos. Includes traditional whirling ducks and airplanes, as well as a shakin' wind-powered Elvis and racing Coyote and Roadrunner. This wry history...is a gem." - School Library Journal. "Full of ingenious designs."- Country Almanac.

Whimsical Whirligigs and How to Make Them
Whimsical Whirligigs
and How to Make Them

Anders S. Lunde

Whimsical Whirligigs and How to Make Them, by Anders S. Lunde. 132 pages. Publisher: Dover Publications (December 8, 2011)

Clearly written, amply illustrated guide provides step-by-step directions and full-size patterns for creating over 30 delightful projects ? from the simple Vane Whirligig to the intricate Clashing Knights. Figures include Danny the Dinosaur, Doctor Doolittle, Johnny Appleseed, the Dancing Sailor, and the Coo-Coo Bird, among others. Photograph accompanies each finished project.

Whirligigs for Woodcarvers
for Woodcarvers

Michael P. O'Neil

Whirligigs for Woodcarvers, by Michael P. O'Neil. 62 pages. Publisher: M and M Arts; 1st edition (September 3, 2007)

Step-by-step instructions for making split-wing whirligigs that will last indefinitely; Full size patterns for making a knight, dragon, eagle, boxer and soldier whirligig; Numerous photos and illustrations for visualizing whirligig features and function; Woodcarving tips and techniques for beginner and intermediate carvers; Lists of all the tools and supplies necessary for woodcarving and whirligig construction. Plus this useful guidance for whirligig artists and craftsmen: The secrets for designing your own original whirligigs that will work right the first time; Sources of supplies for all necessary tools and materials; Troubleshooting tips for uncooperative whirligigs; Creative ideas for design, construction, carving and mounting whirligigs.