The Carolinas have more than a few places of singular beauty. But they have only one soul.
Scotland County – The soul of the Carolinas is a place where multiple cultures have come together to call the area home. It’s a place where these cultures mingle, share their stories, and knit their hopes for the future.
Each fall, these cultures come together and celebrate their past during “Heritage Month” — a series of Festivals and celebrations which highlight and commemorate the many cultures that comprise Scotland County.
Beyond the community fellowship these festivals provide, they also result in considerable economic impact to Scotland County. Combined, the festivals will host over 15,000 people, many from out of town, and, even out of state. The festivals mean money coming into our community and contributing to our local economy.
The festivities begin, Saturday, Sept. 23 in Laurinburg’s Market Park as we celebrate Kuumba. Kuumba means “creativity” and the festival lives up to that promise. Under the tree canopy of the park, the bright colors of traditional African clothing will flow as the scent of various foods drift through the air. The park’s pavilion will host an array of bands and dance troupe’s, many with an African flair. The day’s musical menu will also include gospel and jazz. Top the day off with storytelling and socializing and you will quickly realize why Kuumba is truly an event for the community and the whole family
Kuumba is free of charge. For more information visit www.kuumbafestnc.org
Ever think about trying to flip a telephone pole in the air? It’s called the caber, and Highland Scots have been tossing it around for over 500 years. If you’ve never experienced a Highland Games, you owe it to yourself to join us Saturday, Oct. 7 at the North Carolina Rural Heritage Center in Laurinburg.
A full spectrum of events will be offered at the Games: Scottish Clan and Society tents, food and merchandise vendors, athletic competitions, Scottish musical and dance entertainment, sheep dog demonstrations, and EUSPBA sanctioned solo piping and drumming competitions. Again this year will be pipe and drum band competition which will bring bands in from all over the southeast and provide spectators a first-hand look at the pageantry and precision of pipe bands. And for the little pros out there, they have events the kids love to try
Advanced ticket sales are $12 for adults, $3 for children ($15 and $5 at the door) and may be purchased online at www.games-tickets.com or downtown at the Chamber, Bob’s Jewel Shop, and the Gospel Music and Christian Bookstore. For more information visit www.carolina-highlandgames.com
A week later on Saturday and Sunday Oct. 14 and 15, we will celebrate the Annual John Blue Cotton Festival – also held at the North Carolina Rural Heritage Center.
See a team of mules hitched to an authentic cotton gin used before the Civil War. Check out the goods in the old-time General Store. Thrill to the Cotton Blossom Railroad, powered by a miniature steam locomotive. See how a 19th century mill cut shingles for a house, or how a country grist mill turned out sacks of corn meal. You can also visit an original tobacco barn – one of only five in the state.
The kids can play old-time farm games or go on a hayride. Enjoy live music, storytellers, and dancers on our outdoor stage. Tour the John Blue House, A magnificent example of Steamboat Gothic architecture, built entirely of heart of pine lumber from trees on the grounds. And visit the museum, with its antique tractors, cars, and original farm equipment.
It’s a great weekend destination for the family—a one-of-a-kind place. Admission is $5. Free for those under 6. Visit www.johnblue-cottonfestival.com
And finally, on Oct. 20-22, Laurinburg will host the annual Storytelling Festival of Carolina.
Held downtown at the Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast (located downtown at 131 South Main Street in Laurinburg), the festival includes food vendors and an intimate performance stage to assure you’ll hear the best storytelling this side of Garrison Keillor.
The festival begins on Friday evening at 7:30 at the center. There, visitors can preview each of the festival’s featured national and regional tellers in an olio program.
On Saturday and Sunday get ready to be utterly spellbound as internationally renowned and honored performers spin their magic and touch every emotion from laughter to horror to tears. (Yes, they’re that good.) Best of all, while our event has become a highlight in the world of storytelling (drawing performers and spectators from all over the globe), we have kept the intimate setting that assures you will be one with the performers. The festival runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m on the weekend.
Day and multi-day tickets are available. Military and family packages are also available. For more information visit www.storyartscenter.org.
The month-long celebration will bring thousands of visitors to our community. Please welcome them to Laurinburg/Scotland County and come join the fun!
And if you don’t want the fall (and therefore Festival Season) to get here too soon, you still have a great opportunity to hold onto summer a little longer. In addition to tonight’s Laurinburg After Five event with Fantastic Shakers, the Chamber of Commerce has added a final show on Thursday, September 14th with the Jim Quick & Coastline…so fall can wait.
Cory Huges, executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.