Something about the beginning of October makes me feel energized and refreshed. You go to the grocery store, pass the nurseries and farms and see bales of straw and hay and pumpkins of every size and color on the stands. It brings cooler mornings and nights and seems to be a time to bring people together again as friends and neighbors gather and join together now that the long, hot days of summer are gone.
October also means something very important to the arts world and to communities throughout our country – it is National Arts and Humanities Month! This celebration was initiated to encourage Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of participation in the arts. It has become the nation’s largest collective annual celebration of the arts and humanities. In North Carolina, we are celebrating the North Carolina Arts Council’s 50th birthday this year. Every county in the state will be dedicating an October event to this celebration, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to showcase the Storytelling Festival of Carolina for Scotland County.
Locally, we are lucky to have an entire month dedicated to the heritage of this beautiful and peaceful place and it is up to each of us to take advantage of the opportunities that abound this time of year. Laurinburg is certainly no stranger to fall festivals and for celebrating the things that make us unique. This year, as a part of that celebration and in our continuing efforts to encourage both residents and visitors to “get downtown,” we’ve initiated some big changes for the Storytelling Festival of Carolina. For the first time, the festival will take place in downtown Laurinburg at the Arts Center, October 20-22.
Our festival team is busy finalizing all the details, but one thing is guaranteed – no matter who you are, you can find something to enjoy at this event! We made the location change to draw our participants to downtown and to encourage new, local supporters to give storytelling a try, all while wanting to support our neighboring businesses that we work so hard with to build our community. We want people to get used to coming to our downtown for entertainment options and couldn’t think of a better event to start with. Our goal for this festival, and for all upcoming events in downtown Laurinburg, is that coming downtown for events becomes second nature. We want people to love coming here and be charmed by the things to do and see. We want to use this festival to help highlight how our downtown and local community is supporting each other through local art and visiting artists. We hope this is just the beginning for a storytelling connection to downtown and that each year brings something new.
We want to celebrate our local culture and atmosphere and we want our entertainers and guests to join us! This festival – our 12th! – brings internationally renowned and loved storytellers to our own backyard! 2017’s festival features fan favorites, Bil Lepp, Michael Reno Harrell and North Carolina’s own Priscilla Best. We will also be welcoming musicians back to the festival again this year and are looking forward to putting Pembroke’s Lakota Jon on our outdoor stage, located on Roper Street, on Saturday! Moore County favorite, Momma Molasses, comes back to the festival on Sunday. Our festival is not complete without our evening events – Friday’s Olio featuring a selection of tellers and Saturday’s Gala, highlighting not only our headliners, but also Florence, SC performers, Clay Brown and The Legends Band. What better way to spend your Saturday night than by hearing some of the best entertainers in the world without having to leave your hometown! Besides outstanding entertainment, local vendors will set up on Roper Street and area merchants
will also offer their delicious food and wares. Guests will also be able to enjoy a visual art display, featuring local artists on the walls and display cases of the Arts Center, as we begin our new gallery series this month in our efforts to support visual artists and engage a wider audience of both local people and out of town visitors and guests.
It takes a huge amount of support and coordination from many volunteers and organizations and we couldn’t do it without those dedicated individuals who choose to give their time. Volunteers and sponsors are what keep these events rolling and growing. There are still many ways to be involved and every minute and hour that can be volunteered is vital to the success of this and every event.
This family-friendly weekend will truly delight all those in attendance. Our entertainers will ensure that you’ll laugh and cry and sometimes do both! Share this experience with your friends and neighbors and join us, October 20-22.
Erin Rembert, executive director of the Arts Council of Scotland County, 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.