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“Mad About Ava” Tapped as a County-wide Ava Gardner Cocktail Party

Ava Gardner

Ava Gardner

It was 1963 and Puerto Vallarta, a little known town on the western Pacific coast of Mexico, was being invaded by a star-studded cast to film The Night of the Iguana. For the 2013 Ava Gardner Festival, the Ava Gardner Museum will channel the flavor of the movie and the decade of the 60s with cocktails, food, and fashion to commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary.

“Ava Gardner was a JoCo girl, so this year’s event is going to be a county-wide party to celebrate the museum’s anniversary,” states Todd Johnson, Museum Director. “It promises to be a lot of fun, and I can really sense a lot of excitement in the air not only with locals but also with all the guests who travel from points across the country each year to pay homage to our homegrown Hollywood star.”

Several tourism related partners from across Johnston County are opening their doors on Friday, October 4, as part of a countywide “Mad About Ava” Cocktail Party. The event will feature a 1960s Mad Men dress-up contest and patrons can enjoy specialty martinis named for Ava, craft beers, and wine cocktails, as well as food and entertainment. At all locations patrons may enter the 60s fashion costume contest with cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, as well as door prizes at the museum.

Festivities begin with a “Wine Down Friday” happy hour at the wineries and custom craft beers at the breweries. Participating locations are the Deer River Brewing Co. in Clayton, Double Barley Brewing in Wilson’s Mills, Hinnant Family Vineyards and Winery in Pine Level, Adams Vineyards in Willow Spring, and Gregory Vineyards near McGee’s Crossroads. Other restaurants and bars along the “Cocktail Party” trail are The Little Brown Jug and Bistro on Third in Smithfield and The FlipSide in Clayton. The new Broadslab Distillery in Benson will be offering specially blended cocktails at the Bistro on Third.

Activities at the museum on Friday night include heavy hors d’oeuvres, specialty drinks, new exhibits based on The Night of the Iguana, and entertainment by Columbian-American guitar player Carlos Castilla. This year’s Grand Prize Drawing will be for a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The trip is an all-inclusive package for two, including three nights at the beautiful Vamar Vallarta Marina and Beach Resort (Memorial Day to Labor Day), roundtrip airfare from the continental US, meals, beverages, taxes, hotel fees, and gratuities. Raffle tickets for the trip to Mexico are $25.00 each and may be purchased at participating locations on the “Mad About Ava” Cocktail Party trail or directly through the museum. The ticketed event held in the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield begins at 7pm and tickets are $25 each.

Several area hotels in Smithfield have partnered with the museum in offering an “Ava Festival Package” that includes discounted room rates and a gift bag from the Johnston County Visitors Bureau. For more information on hotel accommodations, visit the website:

This year’s festival is presented by Smithfield’s Chicken N’ BBQ, a popular restaurant chain which started out in Smithfield in 1964. The restaurant’s owners have a love for vintage movies, and each of the 33 restaurants has an Ava Gardner photo wall as a tribute to Smithfield’s native daughter.

The Ava Gardner Museum is located in downtown Smithfield at 325 E. Market Street. Information on these events and advance ticket purchases is available on the museum website, or by calling 919-934-5830. The museum is open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm. There will be extended hours during the Festival: Saturday, 9am-6pm, and Sunday, 1pm-6pm.


The Johnston County Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the entire county. The bureau’s mission is to attract and serve visitors to the county, therefore, increasing visitor spending for area tourism-related businesses. For more information, contact Donna Bailey-Taylor at 919-989-8687, email, or visit the Johnston County Visitors Bureau website at, or follow up on FB,

October 4, 2013 5:00 PM
October 6, 2013 6:00 PM
Ava Gardner Museum
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325 E. Market Street, Smithfield, NC, United States, 27577
Ava Gardner
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