LAURINBURG — Main Street was filled with lawn chairs instead of cars for the opening night of Springfest 2018.
A performance by the band Hip Pocket provided a loud, but warm welcome to the 300 or so visitors who ventured out for the start of the two-day event in downtown Laurinburg.
Hundreds more returned the next day for a charity race, story telling, music, food and arts and crafts.
“It was amazing,” said Chris English, executive director with Laurinburg-Scotland County Chamber of Commerce. “We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.”
The chamber — along with the Story Telling Arts Center, city of Laurinburg, Scotland County Parks and Recreation and Scotland Memorial Foundation — helped organize various aspects of the festival.
The Springfest began Friday with the chamber’s first Laurinburg After Five performance of the year. Typically held at the James Morgan Complex, the concert was staged near the Laurinburg Art Garden.
While some bobbed their heads from their seats, many more concert goers dusted off their best moves on the asphalt dance floor.
Others sat on the sidewalk talking and sampling food sold by Cronly Street vendors.
There was also face painting available and children soon began dancing with their faces sporting fairies and butterflies.
“Being downtown was a completely different energy than being at the Morgan Complex,” English said. “I got to see so many new different faces. It was a much more diverse group as well as a very large group.”
The crowd began to wind down around 9 p.m. just in time for the screening of “A Dog’s Purpose” that was hosted by Scotland County Parks and Recreation. The movie was the first in a three-part film series. “The Sting” will be shown in May and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” will be shown in June.
Friday’s movie drew more than 50 people to watch family-friendly film on the wall of the AB Gibson Education Center.
“It was great to see people enjoy being downtown and creating a wonderful environment,” said Bryan Graham, director of Scotland County Parks and Recreation. “I look forward to seeing the progression and the beauty of families enjoying quality time through our programs.”
Like Laurinburg After Five, the annual FUNd Run-4-Life was moved to downtown to be a part of Springfest. The event had been held on the campus of Scotland Memorial Hospital. The charity run raises money for the Scotland Cancer Treatment Center and the Diabetes Education Fund.
More than 400 runners took part this year.
Zackary Ferguson was the first person to cross the finish line with a time of 16 minutes and 56 seconds. Madison Williams won the female overall with a time of 22 minutes.
The run was filled with people of all ages, including babies who participated via strollers.
One young attendee was 8-year-old Brynley Freeman, who placed second in her age division.
“I’ve ran one before … I really like running,” Brynley said. “My favorite part was when I got to run with my running club teacher Mrs. Robinson.”
A group of women from Scotland Women’s Health Center joined the race in Wonder Woman-themed outfits.
Kim Lopes was the first of the group to cross the finish line.
“I wanted to get a group together from the women’s health center because I wanted to support the cause,” Lopes said. “I think the event went really well. It was a lot of fun and everyone was very supportive while you were running.”
In addition to helping charity, much of the day was a celebration of the arts.
Events from painting a picture to be displayed in the Story Telling Arts Center to sidewalk chalk drawing and interacting with a bubble artist captured the attention of Laurinburg’s children.
Christy Wilkes and her daughter, Kenly, celebrated the 11-year-old’s birthday surrounded by artists showing of their skills in everything from arts and crafts to gardening and baking.
The pair stopped to enjoy the street artistry of David Matthews, also known as the Hartsville Bubble Man. Matthews worked his craft by using homemade bubble blowing mechanisms, his body movements and the slight breeze to entertain scores of children who delighted in chasing everything from small bubbles to ones as large and as long as some of Main Street’s store fronts.
“We’ve been coming since before it was the arts festival,” Wilkes said. “We try to attend all the downtown festivals. It’s a good way to get to see and visit with people you know but don’t get to see every day.”
Kenly was excited to see school friends and take a moment to pop a few bubbles despite her advancing age.
Children had plenty of opportunities to enjoy a few hands-on crafts as well.
Two professors from UNC Pembroke’s art department, Naomi Grant and Ann Lopez, set up a booth with a beading station for children.
Students from Scotland High’s National Arts Honors Society completed a service project by hosting a station where little ones could leave their mark on the community. The students and art teacher Dayona Johnson helped budding artists decorate a painting that held the outline of a Scotsman and bagpipes.
People filled in the blank canvass with designs including flowers, graffiti and paw prints. The completed work will hang in the Story Telling Arts Center.
“We wanted to come together and combine community and engagement in Scotland County and it will always be here,” Johnson said.
Cayden and Sidney Scott and their friend Madison Smith took a tour of the newly unveiled statues of the art garden. The group had visited the garden the evening before and played hide-and-seek among the shadows of the sculptures, and decided that they wanted to return during the festival to have a look at the pieces in the daylight.
“I think it’s pretty cool. It’s amazing, I love coming here,” Madison said.
“We love this place,” said Sidney Scott.
The children are frequent visitors to the garden that held the previous round of sculptures created by art students from UNC Pembroke.
Sidney Scott was fond of an untitled piece that resembled a flower made of steel rings. Chandler Scott favored one that looked like a city bus bench, and Madison Smith was partial to a sculpture that reminded her of a bird’s nest.
The children already had an interest in art before the visit.. Sidney had her artwork displayed at the school system’s recent arts night at Scotland High.
Vickie Scott, grandmother of the two children, said she enjoys bringing the kids to the garden and appreciates art herself.
“I like seeing the different pieces,” Scott said. “It is a good use of the space and a good addition to the downtown area.”
Reach Beth Lawrence or Kateline Gandee at 910-276-2311