5 Ways to be a Friend of the Park

Durham Central Park is an organization that was built from the ground up, through the work of volunteers, neighbors, and Friends of the Park.

Since the park’s inception, our Friends of the Park have supported DCP Inc. as a 501(c)3 with a mission for providing space for community. We do just that by offering  year-round free programming, keeping the green-space well maintained, and offering a space in Downtown Durham for respite, recreation, refreshment, and restoration.

Our efforts are nothing without Friends of the Park like you. If you are interested in how to become a Friend of the Park, read on to learn more about ways to participate.

Food Truck Rodeo March 20 12-4pm
Join us for our March 20 Rodeo 12-4pm at the DCP Pavilion!


5 Ways to Be a Friend of the Park

1. Help make our events sustainable!

Our 2022 Event Season kicks off with the March 20 Food Truck Rodeo! Supporters like you help us to ensure that the Rodeo, and all of our events, are as low waste as possible. Help educate the public on recycling and waste diversion (and learn some yourself too!). Recoup reusables to prevent landfill overflow.  If waste doesn’t interest you, staff the info table so event attendees can find their favorite truck! We have shifts for volunteers of all ages and abilities. Sign up here or email [email protected]


2. Join us at our bi-monthly workdays!

Being Downtown Durham’s backyard is no small feat, and wouldn’t be possible with out the 740+ volunteer hours our Friends of the Park have put in each year to cleaning up brush, mulching paths, pruning, trimming, hacking and raking! Our workdays are bimonthly during the Durham Farmers’ Market 10am-12pm. Our upcoming spring workday is THIS SATURDAY March 12, and the remaining Spring Workdays are March 26, April 9 & 23, and May 14 & 28



This neighbor comes down with her own tools to Durham Central Park to help de-litter!

3. Lead the Way in Litter Pick Up!

When you take your walks through Durham Central Park, make it more purposeful in the easiest way possible! On your route pick up just three pieces of litter and take it to a conveniently located receptacle. You can help keep the park looking beautiful and trash-free as you go, or reach out to us if you would like tools and guidance, or even to arrange a meet and greet clean-up with your friends and neighbors! By pitching in and picking up, you help make our green spaces cleaner, healthier, safer and more beautiful!

4. Help Us Reach More Friends

Do you subscribe to our newsletter? Do our Facebook Events help keep you in the loop? Did you know you can set alerts to get the latest from the Durham Central Park instagram page to? However you get your DCP news, when you like and comment on our events, when you share about the marvelous time you had picnicking on our great lawn, you help us build our audience! By helping Durham Central Park reach more Friends, you make DCP Events accessible to the greater community.

5. Give to the Friends of the Park Campaign

Durham Central Park provides maintenance, free programming, affordable facilities, and green space for all in Downtown Durham. And every gift to DCP means we can achieve our mission of providing space for the community. Donate to Durham Central Park today, and then join us at our next DCP event to see how your contribution supports our work.

Volunteer at our Saturday Workdays!

Volunteer workdays in 2022: after 3 snowy weekends, we are ready to get out to the park and beautify!

This winter, we are hosting 4 cleanup/beautification workdays at the park. Workdays are a great opportunity to build community, earn volunteering credit, and support the park. All ages and abilities welcome! 

They are scheduled for the following Saturday’s from 10am-Noon:

February 5 (this Saturday!)

February 26

March 12

March 26

Our workdays will continue year-round, so stay tuned for Spring and Summer dates!

Join Us This Saturday! 


We will be cleaning up the bio-retention area next to the bridge on the east side of the park. We’ll cut out invasive trees (mimosa & privet), pull out brambles and cut back tall flower stalks. Then in the spring and summer it will be lush, full of flowers and protect the park from flooding. 


We’ll meet at the bridge near Hunt and Foster Street (across from the entrance to the pavilion) at 10am. Look for Erin and Bryce and a couple of wheelbarrows full of tools. 


We’ll provide tools and have plenty of gloves. Please bring your own water bottle and if you prefer to use your own tools and gloves, bring those too!


If you can’t find us, please feel free to call or text Erin at 919-794-8194 and we’ll find you. 


Our volunteer workdays take place during the Durham Farmers’ Market. The farmers’ market will be open from 10-Noon as well, so there will be a lot of folks around… and lots of good food too. 

If you can’t join us this Saturday, sign up here to receive updates about future workdays.


See you Saturday!


DCP Pavilion Undergoes Improvements

The Pavilion at Durham Central Park is getting a major update:

Painting begins at the DCP Pavilion today, January 19, 2022, and will continue throughout the next month! Yes, this means the pavilion will be periodically closed off to park patrons. Because of weather, rentals, and the painting process, the painting of the pavilion will take place intermittently. So be sure to check if the pavilion has caution tape out before heading to the pavilion for recreation. If the pavilion is roped off and there are painters under the pavilion please enjoy the many other attractions at DCP like the pollinator garden and bee hotel, Mt. Merrill, the Pixel Wall, Barnaby D. Troll and more on the east side of the park.

We will be closing off the pavilion intermittently. Please avoid the highlighted area when you see the pavilion entrances roped off with caution tape.

The Pavilion at Durham Central Park opened with a grand celebration in 2007. Since then, it has hosted weddings, classes, festivals, events, and of course, the Durham Farmers’ Market. The market and other rentals will continue to be open while the painting process goes on, but during the week, we will be restricting access to the pavilion.


Gonzales Painters and Contractors, Inc. Begins painting in the Durham Central Park Pavilion
Gonzales Painters and Contractors have begun painting the DCP Pavilion

We’d like to thank Gonzales Painters and Contractors Inc. for providing quality improvement to our beloved pavilion! This will be the first time since the DCP Pavilion opened that we’ve done painting improvements. Routine maintenance is key to keeping our well loved park a safe, dynamic, and fun place to be!


Like the improvements we’re making?

Support the work we do to keep the park amazing by donating todayDurham Central Park Inc. is a 501(c)3 that relies on donations and sustainers to maintain, program, and fund this beautiful green space downtown Durham.

DCP Board Members Match the First $25,000 of Your Donations!

The place for community once again is Durham Central Park. As we have navigated the ever-changing pandemic, this park – a five-acre oasis in downtown, open to everyone – has never been more vital.

Our staff of three, along with hundreds of volunteers, board members, new neighbors, and supporters, like you, make it possible for Durhamites and visitors to enjoy the park’s lush gardens and trails, tranquil benches and gorgeous vistas. We maintain this beating heart of the city’s center, 24/7/365, fulfilling the promise made decades ago to transform an overgrown, trash-strewn eyesore into a lively community gathering space. At no time since has this beautiful, accessible park been so important.

This city park, however, is like no other in Durham. It is managed, programmed and improved by a 501c3 non-profit organization, DCP, Inc. We receive no city funding for this work. We oversee all aspects of the park – presenting free programming, hosting hundreds of events at the Pavilion, overseeing the daily maintenance and management of the space.

These past two years, we have put a sharp focus on improving and expanding the park’s gardens, trails, and trees. Heading into 2022, our focus will be on improvements and repairs to the park’s aging facilities, increasing seating, strengthening our free programming and community partnerships. Most importantly, we will spend time visioning and planning for the future so that the park can continue to meet the demands of our growing city.

I invite you to support us or renew your commitment to Durham Central Park by:

  •         Joining as a Friend of Durham Central Park through a three-year pledge of support
  •         Becoming a Monthly, Quarterly, or Annual Park Sustainer
  •         Making a Year-End Gift

This fall, a generous group of DCP, Inc. board members will be matching the first $25,000 of your donations in this year end campaign. Your gift offers comfort and inclusion for all in the heart of a rapidly changing Durham. Thank you for your support and helping to chart our course for a successful 2022.

With gratitude,

Erin Kauffman, Executive Director

Nil Ghosh, Board Chair



Your Feedback: PLAYlist Audience Survey Is Live!

LOOK at these September and October photos by Lis Tyroler Photography. They’re snapshots of pure JOY at the second half of our 2021 PLAYlist Concert Series, presented in partnership with WNCU 90.7.   If you attended one, two, three or all four concerts (Al Strong-July 2, Vanessa Ferguson-August 6,  September: A Tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire-September 3 and Soul Understated ft. Mavis Swan Pool-October 1) please take a few moments to complete out our new 2021 Audience Survey or click the pop up, so we can learn what you like and what we can do better. Durham Magazine readers named Durham Central Park a 2021 Best Venue for Live music (large venue) in their annual Best Of Survey but we want to hear from you now that this season is a wrap.   Offering free, welcoming and inclusive programming is integral to Durham Central Park’s mission of Providing Space for Community. In addition to PLAYlist, our programming includes the Children’s Independence Day Parade and the annual Iron Pour.   Over the past 21 years, DCP has become a unique activity hub downtown. It’s a beloved community gathering space and some see it as a “sacred” place in the heart of Durham. Why? Because Durham residents and businesses have made an investment in creating, building and sustaining this wonderful urban oasis. None of this would be happening today without supporters like you.   As the non-profit that manages and programs the park, DCP, Inc. relies on your financial support. If you love our free programming or just the feeling that you get when visiting the park, please make a secure one time or sustaining donation at durhamcentralpark.org/donate. Or, mail a check to: Durham Central Park, PO Box 1526, Durham NC 27702.

Soul Understated: PLAYlist Concert Series finale Friday

PLAYlist’s finale night, Friday, October 1, presents Soul Understated featuring Mavis “Swan” Pool! Led by vocalist extraordinaire Mavis ’SWAN’ Poole (Lauryn Hill, Prince) and powerful yet melodic drummer Jeremy ‘BEAN’ Clemons (who has performed with Gregory Porter and Burning Spear), Soul Understated delivers a beautifully performed organic sound with stellar musicianship. As a result, they’ve appeared at such major festivals as The Blue Note Jazz Fest, The Brooklyn Hip Hop Fest and Toronto Jazz Festival. Mavis appeared in the HBO series Vinyl! Check out this Kennedy Center footage and look at all this local talent rounding out the band:

Branden Williams II – Keyboards
Hugh Swaso – Guitar
Stacy Dillard – Saxophones
Al Strong – Trumpet
Brevan Hampden – Percussion

WNCU’s Friday night Funk, Old School and Disco show and its host, DJ Travis Gales, simulcasts live from Durham Central Park at 7 p.m. Soul Understated play a 90-minute set at 8 p.m. Local food and beverage vendors are Amagee’s, Oink n’ Moo, Epic Vegan Food Truck, JAM Ice Cream, Glass Jug, Bull City Burger and Brewery and Portfolio Group.

Reserve your free tickets and we’ll see you at the park Friday!

We’re back-September 5th is our next Food Truck Rodeo!

We’re back! Make your Labor Day Weekend shine Sunday, September 5, with our first Food Truck Rodeo since the pandemic began. In 2020 we’d planned to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Food Truck Rodeo, the Triangle’s original rodeo, but had to cancel seven of them, due to gathering restrictions. The Food Truck Rodeo is an all-ages Sunday afternoon gathering of dozens of the Triangle’s most popular food trucks, five times each year, but it’s also a way the 501c3 Durham Central Park Inc. raises up to one third of its annual operating budget, so we’re happy to be back.

It’s also a great way to support local chefs and entrepreneurs on wheels–many, such as Cocoa Cinnamon, Pie Pushers, Boricua Soul and Only Burger have continued to national television competitions, awards and to open brick and mortar locations here in Durham, North Carolina.

But food trucks aren’t a 21st century fad. In the U.S., chuck wagons, pulled by horse and mule were the first food trucks. What was on the menu? Dried meat, beans and coffee got the loggers and cowboys through their work days. Then there were sausage wagons serving to Ivy League students in the late 19th century–and did you know the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile dates back to 1936?

Ice cream trucks and Loncheras (taco trucks) followed. Here’s a walk down memory lane with our Food Truck Rodeos, which have also served to document the changes in downtown Durham’s skyline.

PLAYlist Concert Series Returns July 2nd!

Durham Central Park and WNCU 90.7 Join Forces To Present PLAYlist Concert Series 2021!

Durham Central Park, a downtown destination for outdoor recreation, relaxation and cultural events is joining forces with WNCU 90.7, the Triangle’s jazz and NPR station, to present the 2021 PLAYlist Concert Series! Every first Friday, July through October, as the sun sets and the weekend begins, see North Carolina’s Al Strong, Vanessa Ferguson, Soul Understated and an irresistible tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire. Concerts are free, open to the public, all ages and rain or shine.

WNCU’s DJ Travis Gales will simulcast his funk and disco show live, from Durham Central Park, at 7 p.m., which is when local food trucks, craft beer and vendors begin serving. Bring your folding chair or blanket. Parking is free in the lot beside Durham Central Park. There are restrooms at DCP and the venue is wheelchair accessible.

PLAYlist has presented artists such as Rebirth Brass Band, Too Many Zooz, Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Valerie June and Van Hunt to an adoring, often dancing, multi-generational audience since 2017. Last year’s series was fully booked, but had to be cancelled, due to Covid-19. Durham Magazine readers named Durham Central Park a 2021 Best Venue for Live music (large venue) in their annual Best Of Survey!

Admission to PLAYlist Concert Series is free, due to support from City of Durham, Downtown Durham Inc., North Carolina Arts Council, Durham Arts Council, Acme Plumbing, Resolute Builders, Foster On The Park and Morningstar Law. RESERVE YOUR FREE TICKETS.

Sustain PLAYlist Concert Series

If you specify your gift to support PLAYlist and our free programming, gifts of $50 or more will receive a PLAYlist t-shirt (see photo below– a variety of colors are available).
Offering free, welcoming and inclusive programming is integral to Durham Central Park’s mission of Providing Space for Community. In addition to PLAYlist, our programming includes the Children’s Independence Day Parade and Food Truck Rodeos. We also partner with other local groups to provide free, fun activities at the park, from yoga to the annual Iron Pour.
Over the past 21 years, DCP has become a unique activity hub downtown. It’s a beloved community gathering space and some see it as a “sacred” place in the heart of Durham. Why? Because Durham residents and businesses have made an investment in creating, building and sustaining this wonderful urban oasis. None of this would be happening today without supporters like you.
As the non-profit that manages and programs the park, DCP, Inc. relies on your financial support. If you love our free programming or just the feeling that you get when visiting the park, please make a secure one time or sustaining donation on our website at durhamcentralpark.org/donate or mail a check to: Durham Central Park, PO Box 1526, Durham NC 27702.

Reaching Out To Durham’s Hungry: A multi-site photography project by Rhonda Klevansky begins May 21

An estimated 1 in 5 Durham County households can’t put regular meals on the table (Feeding America). Food insecurity has no single face, color, or ethnicity, no nationality, gender, or sexual orientation. Food insecurity weakens our communities because it leads to poor health and lower education outcomes. It creates an additional obstacle to economic well-being. The burden of food security has fallen especially on Durham’s African-American and immigrant communities and has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

These portraits show some of the inspiring people who have responded to this crisis by supplying free food to those in need. They are among the many Durhamites who run food pantries, cook meals, and give away the vegetables, breads and dairy products they produce.

The photographer, Rhonda Klevansky is a visual storyteller and writer who lives in Durham, NC.  She felt the need to bring attention to the extent of hunger in our county and to those who are working to address the problem.  For more information about these grassroots responses: https://www.endhungerdurham.org/reachingout

May 21 – July 16, 2021 portraits from the Reaching Out to Durham’s Hungry project will be on view at:
Durham Arts Council
21c Museum Hotel
Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub
Durham Central Park
Museum of Durham History

Fun Things to Do at DCP This Weekend

Fun Things to Do at Durham Central Park This Weekend

Saturday, April 10, 1-9 p.m. Downtown Durham Inc. is closing the Durham Central Park section of Foster Street to cars and opening it to pedestrian traffic with outdoor seating and buskers. It’s called The Streetery! You can shop, people watch, play, carry out, dine in or dine out (picnic!)

The Streetery is popping up in different sections of downtown on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. Help us maintain a safer, socially distanced, outdoor downtown experience. Wear a mask while in The Streetery, keep six feet away from people who aren’t in your group and respect the rules our small merchants have put in place to protect their customers and staff. Buskers/street performers:

1-3 p.m. Darrien Rutherford, guitarist

5:30-7:30 p.m. Matt and Maceo Grady, folk/soul duo

5:30-7:30 p.m. Dakota Fox, acrobat and stiltwalker

6-8 p.m. The Cabinet of Wishes, performance poetry

NEW! Food Truck Sunday, April 11, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Food Truck Sunday at Durham Central Park is a time to slow down, enjoy the day, get some local food–to go, or to make a picnic in the park. We will feature 1-2 trucks per afternoon and City of Durham social distancing guidelines apply.

Today’s featured truck is Bull City Street Food, home of the “Fat Bull” burger. BCSF offers unique & delicious street foods from various regions from around the world. Save room for dessert, The Frozen Bull will be there too!

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