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Ten months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Town of Smithfield officially was chartered. However, the origins of the community date back to 1759 when John Smith, one of the area’s earliest settlers, petitioned to operate a ferry where the Neuse River cut through land he owned. The site became known as Smith’s Ferry.

Growth did not come quickly for Smithfield. Its population remained around 500 until long after the Civil War. Although considered, it did not become the State Capital, so businesses that might have opened in the town went instead to Raleigh.

Smithfield's destiny seems to be increased urbanization, although agriculture will continue to be a basic means of economic livelihood. With two interstate highways and its proximity to the Research Triangle area, Smithfield is poised for quality economic growth well into the twenty-first century.

Top 10 Things to Do in Smithfield

  1. First, get to know the county by visiting the Johnston County Heritage Center to learn about the county’s history and its people at the exhibits on the first floor. 
  2. For 25-65% off national retail brands like Adidas, Banana Republic Factory Store, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Carolina Pottery, Coach, Loft Outlet, Nike, Talbots, Timberland, and Tommy Hilfiger don’t miss a shopping trip to Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield with over 80 stores to choose from.
  3. Ava Gardner - she was a Hollywood legend during the “Golden Age” and she was born in the Brogden Community 7-miles east of Smithfield – visit the Ava Gardner Museum and learn about her Cinderella story and rise to stardom.
  4. Do you need a girlfriends weekend?  Make plans to visit Smithfield for the Girlfriend's Getaway Package.  Hotel deals, gift bag, chocolates and lots of coupons!  It's a date!
  5. Taste and compare Holt Lake’s, White Swan’s, Smithfield’s and Stephenson’s BBQ…..determine who is the best?  Everyone has their favorite!!!!
  6. For hometown talent, visit the Neuse Little Theatre, which hosts several performances each year at Smithfield Town Commons – Legend Hut.
  7. Our second brewery in the county is located along US HWY 70, Double Barley has a lounge and beer garden for your evening out! 
  8. The award winning country hams at Smithfield Ham Shop is only one reason to stop by and shop for unique gifts – also view the “curing room” and learn about this century old method of preserving meats.
  9. On a warm day, the Hills of Snow Snowballs on US 301 in Smithfield offers relief from the heat with over 99 flavors.
  10. One of the oldest festivals in Smithfield, the Ham & Yam celebration has grown to include national entertainment, children’s activities, BBQ cook-offs and much more.  Get there early on Saturday for Ham Biscuits.


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