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The 2015 N.C. State Fair “Nothing Could Be Finer” and the “Homegrown North Carolina” Concert Series for 2015

After this long hot summer we’ve been having in North Carolina, we are all ready for the N.C. State Fair. Counting down the days to the fair means cooler weather, fun foods, games that challenge our skills, exhibitions, as well as a great concert line up. The North Carolina State Fair is the largest 11-day event in North Carolina, attracting more than 800,000 attendees. Managed and produced by the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, it is consistently ranked among the top 25 fairs in North America.

The 2015 N.C. State Fair will be held this year on October 15-25 with the theme is “Nothing Could Be Finer.” Started in 1853, the N.C. State Fair has become a traditional fall-time event that aims to educate all North Carolinians about the importance of agriculture to our heritage and our economy. Their mission is to showcase and promote the state’s agriculture, agribusiness, arts, crafts and culture through the annual agricultural fair. (Ilina and I have a mutual friend who is a multiple Blue Ribbon winner in the baked goods category at the Iowa State Fair. We’re hoping she will visit one day and bring us some of her award-winning cinnamon rolls.)
2015 NC State Fair "Nothing Could Be Finer"
The State Fair is a a great event for families, groups of friends, or a fun first date. One of my personal favorite things to do is check out the display featuring the largest pumpkin and watermelon in the Expo Center. It’s always a great photo-op and makes a fun photo for your photo albums and Instagram.
Bumper Crop of Fun

Fun things to do at the N.C. State Fair:

  • Try to name as many crops, animals, pieces of machinery and crafts as you can in alphabetical order
  • Check out the 21-foot-tall Smokey Bear display and learn about healthy forests and how to prevent forest fires
  • Find out what the “buzz” is about at the Bee and Honey competition area in the Expo Center. Beekeepers are on hand to talk about beekeeping and the critical role bees play in producing our food. (The exhibit features a screened cage with an active beehive.)
  • See a Milking Demonstration and answer that age old question: Does chocolate milk come from brown cows? (Held between the Graham Building and Expo Center. Check out the daily schedule for times.)
  • Feeling Patriotic? Visit the WWI exhibit in the north-side lobby of Dorton Arena. A partnership between the Department of Cultural Resources, the North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina National Guard, this exhibit explains the plight of the American soldier during WWI, and even the role the North Carolina State Fairgrounds played in the victory!
  • Head over to the Expo Center and check out the unusual shaped vegetables
  • Decide which agricultural heritage activity you found most interesting at the Village of Yesteryear on the fairgrounds (blacksmith, boat making, craft-making, growing large horticulture crops, cutting flowers, raising and showing livestock, making clothes etc.) and then Instagram a photo with the hashtag #NCStateFair

Sights from the Expo Building
Take the kids to check out the kids who participate in the fair:

  • Livestock barns and shows. Many youngsters participate in livestock shows, some barely taller than the animals they are showing. In the Expo Center, students can even milk a cow at the N.C. State University Animal Science Club’s Milking Booth.
  • Folk Festival. This event features kids of all ages competing in dance and singing.
  • Arts and Crafts. School work for grades K-12 are on display in the Kerr Scott Building.
  • 4-H Displays in the Education Building features scenes created by 4-H groups in the state.
  • County Fair Best of Show Exhibit (Commercial & Education Building), where adult and junior Best of Show winning entries from fairs across the state are displayed.

Sights from the Flower ShowFirst Weekend: Oct. 13-16

I’m looking at heading over to the fair on October 15th to see an old favorite band from my youth, Firehouse. I might even break out my very old, err, vintage rocker gear to wear to the show! Wait, I think it’s time for a NC Handmade Trivia Question: What was the original name of Firehouse? The answer will be at the end of the post.

NC State Fair Homegrown Concert Series

Oct. 15 — Firehouse with The Fifth

Oct. 16 — The Summit Church featuring Kaimy Masse, Hank Murphy and Summit Worship

Oct. 17 — Jason Michael Carroll, Luke Combs, Stephanie Quayle

Oct. 18 — Orquesta GarDel

Oct. 19 — Nuv Yug Presents Bollywood Night

Oct. 20 — Black Sheep with Shadina

Oct. 21 — Band of Oz and The Embers

Oct. 22 — Wake Chapel Choir, Instrument of Praise Gospel Concert Chrale, Watts Chapel Gospel Choir

Oct. 23 — The Love Language

Oct. 24 — Charlie Daniels Band and Kasey Tyndall

Oct. 25 — Nantucket and Sidewinder

All concerts are free, but floor seating (closest to the stage) will require a ticket, which can be picked up beginning at 9 a.m. the day of the show at the Dorton Arena Box Office. There is a limit of six tickets per person and tickets will only be available for that day’s show. First-come, first-served seating will be available in the arena’s permanent seating section.

Doors will open at 6:15 p.m., with shows starting at 7:30.


The N.C. State Fair runs Oct. 15-25. For more information, go to www.ncstatefair.org.

Discount tickets to the 2015 N.C. State Fair go on sale on Monday, Aug. 3, at 10 a.m.

Trivia Question Answer: Firehouse used to be called “White Heat.” I saw them play when I was a freshman in high school at the local community college.

Civil Rights Movement Has Roots in NC

The history of the South is complex, just as it is in points around the globe. Our story is deep and vast, and most importantly, defined by the lens we wear. North Carolina is rooted in civil rights history.

Inspired by the Greensboro sit-ins, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began at Shaw University in 1960. Shaw, the oldest historically black university in the South, is around the corner from my son’s school so I often marvel at what those walls hold.  Julian Bond, a founding member of SNCC, was instrumental in the group’s organization and growth. Incidentally, he was my professor in college for a course that has moved me more than any other, the History of the Civil Rights Movement. Can you imagine a more apt teacher for such a class? Bond is honored at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in its Hall of Fame.

My husband and son were recently there. This summer my husband has taken each of our sons for a sojourn of their choice within our state. My newly minted 10-year old son chose Greensboro and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. I had visited there before with my older son so our youngest has been itching to reach double digits so he too could visit. He has studied the civil rights movement in school, and we have been to points all over Washington, D.C., including the Martin Luther King memorial on MLK Day. Yet my son was yearning to learn about the movement that sprouted so close to home.

He was not disappointed.

In fact, as all of us have experienced on our visits there, we left moved, angry, and motivated. We have a new appreciation for the ferocity of the civil rights leaders and the immense risks they took. We feel honored to have seen pieces of history firsthand. Imagine the lump in my throat seeing Julian Bond commemorated, a man whose lectures and stories riveted me at a time in my life when I was grasping to find my way and my own voice.

I am amazed at how few people we know have visited the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. We are lucky to have this bastion of history in our state. There are guided tours, speakers, children’s story time, and more. My son has already asked to go back. This time, in light of national news and a resurgence of civil rights discussions in my own family and across the country, we will experience the museum together with yet a new lens.

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is an archival center, collecting museum and teaching facility devoted to the international struggle for civil and human rights. The Museum celebrates the nonviolent protests of the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins that served as a catalyst in the civil rights movement.”

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is located in downtown Greensboro at 134 South Elm Street.


Summer (April – September)
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Sunday Closed

Winter (October – March)
Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday Closed


Happy Independence Day!


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Flags are proudly waving in the mountain air and the ocean breeze. This beautiful perch atop Chimney Rock is a favorite. We wish you safe and happy 4th of July!

A to Z North Carolina — Fun Facts about the Old North State

North Carolina is an amazing state and it is filled with facts. Some we knew, and others that we’re finding out daily. As much as we love North Carolina, we knew that if we were missing out on facts about the Old North State, we couldn’t be alone and created our A to Z guide about North Carolina.

Some letters will have more facts than others and we will be constantly updating this list. Did we miss something ? Send us an email at handmadenorthcarolina at gmail dot com.

A — Three hundred miles of the Appalachian Trail wind through the North Carolina mountains.

A — Albemarle Sound is the largest freshwater sound in the world.

B — The Biltmore Estate is America’s largest private home containing 250 rooms.

B — The Brown Mountain Lights are a mysterious, rare occurring light phenomenon happening on Brown Mountain near Burke County. (Lisa grew up about 45 minutes from this area and has seen them on quite a few occasions.)

B — Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville on March 7, 1914.

C — North Carolina’s State Bird is the Cardinal

C — Clay is the state art medium

D — Our state flower is the Dogwood

E — Esse Quam Videri is our state motto and means “To be rather than to seem”

F — Fontana Dam is the tallest dam in the Eastern United States, at 480 feet high.

G — The Great Smokey Mountains National Park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.

G — Cabarrus County, North Carolina, was the site of America’s first gold rush.

H — Every year, on the third Saturday in June, the National Hollerin’ Contest takes place in Spivey’s Corner (population 49!) with the proceeds benefiting the Spivey’s Corner Volunteer Fire Department

I — Many people believe that North Carolina was the first state to declare independence from England with the Mecklenburg Declaration of 1775. It is celebrated every year with Meck Dec day.

J — Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Heads is the location of the naturally tallest sand dune in the world.

K — Krispy Kreme donuts were created in Winston-Salem.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

L — The Long Leaf Pine is our state tree

L — The Lost Colony of North Carolina is still a mystery. The only clue left was the word “Croatan” carved on a tree

M — Moravians were one of first settlers, creating what was “Old Salem” and is now “Winston-Salem”

M — Mount Mitchell is the tallest mountain in the eastern United States.

N — New Bern is the home of Pepsi. It was created there in 1898.

O — North Carolina’s state song is the “Old North State”, written in 1927.

P — We’re proud to call the Plott Hound our state dog.

North Carolina's official dog is the Plott Hound
By DTabCam (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

P — Pirates? Arr Matey! Blackbeard is one of history’s most legendary pirates of all time, and the coast of North Carolina, from Ocracoke Island to the small inland town of Bath, has the rare distinction of being his favorite plundering grounds, hideout, and home.

Q — The Queen Anne’s Revenge was the flagship of Blackbeard the Pirate. (Many thanks to our Twitter friend @SurfinPirate for helping us out here!)

R — Raleigh is our state capitol.

S — Seagrove was designated the state birthplace of traditional pottery by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2005.

S — North Carolina’s state fruit is the Scuppernong.

T — Did you know North Carolina has an official Tartan? Called the Carolina Tartan, it was designed in 1981 by Peter MacDonald of Crieff, Scotlan and registered with the Scottish Tartan Society in 1995.

U — The Unaka National Forest was established on February 24, 1920 by President Wilson. Unaka was formed by combining the White Top, Unaka and French Broad Purchase Units. Later land transfers divided it and now this picturesque region of fertile valleys and towering hills at the meeting place of three States—Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. E

V — Students in Wilson County petitioned the NCGA in 1995 to have the Sweet Potato declared our state vegetable

V — The first English child born in America, Virginia Dare, was born in Roanoke, North Carolina, in 1587.

V — The Linn Cove Viaduct located on the Blue Ridge Parkway is an international engineering marvel. The Viaduct was completed in 1987 at a cost of $10 million and was the last section of the Blue Ridge Parkway to be finished.

The Linn Cove Viaduct
By Haas, David, creator [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

W — North Carolina’s state wildflower is the “Carolina Lily”.

The Carolina Lily is North Carolina's state wildflower

W — Vollis Simpson created Whirligig’s at his home in North Carolina.

W — Whitewater Falls in Transylvania County, one of over 200 waterfalls in North Carolina, is the highest waterfall on the East Coast.

Y — Yonahlossee is the Cherokee word for “trail of the black bear.” In 1889 the Yonahlossee Trail was built by Hugh MacRae. This trail served as a toll road between Linville and Blowing Rock until the 1920s when it became part of the national highway system as US 221.

Z — The North Carolina Zoo is located in Asheboro, seated on a 2,200-acre tract of land in the Uwharrie Mountains. Approximately 500 acres of this property have been developed into one of the largest “natural habitat” zoos in the United States.

GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World {Summer Adventure List}

Discovery Place science museum in Charlotte, NC, will always be one of my favorite places to visit in the Queen City. They consistently bring top tier exhibits to our area and I try to attend each one. I was more than pretty excited when they sent me an invitation for GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World. I am an audiophile whose family is filled with musicians (bluegrass) and quite a few of my friends gig professionally in bands.

This traveling exhibit is truly one for every age group. GUITAR explores the history of the world’s most recognized musical instrument in this fully immersive exhibition that showcases nearly 100 historical artifacts, including more than 60 guitars. It has made my Summer Adventure List, not just because of the historical and scientific significance, also because so many schools are cutting funding for music eduction. (And if you know me and Ilina, you know how important education is to us.)

GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World #HandmadeNC

When I walked in, it was wall to wall stringed instruments, along with performance video and audio, as well as hands-on interactive displays. I headed straight over to learn about guitar strings and after strumming each type, now realize why metal strings are preferred over plastic or catgut. The sound is so much better and the tone is clean and pure.

Science and Guitars

But Discovery Place is a science museum, why would they have this exhibit? Because so much of music and guitars have their basis in science. The human brain is uniquiely wired to remember musical patterns better than a series of numbers or letters. Researchers have found that seven times (i.e. numbers, facts, letters, etc.) are about the maximum that most people can keep in their memory. The exception to this is music. Much of popular music is built on riffs, which are groupings of notes that are repeated throughout a song. Our mental ability to embrace musical patterns allows us to remember long riffs when we can’t remember that many numbers.

Electric guitars also rely on electromagnetism to produce sound. Each electric guitar has a mechanism called a pickup that converts the mechanical energy of a vibrating string to an electrical signal, allowing it to be amplified, processed and reproduced. When the magnetic field of the pickup is disrupted by the vibration of a metal string, it creates a current in the copper wire. The current is transmitted through another wire to potentiometers, which are often used as tone and volume controls. The potentiometers, controlled by the knobs, adjust the frequencies in the signal that control volume and tone — just like a dimmer switch that adjusts the level of light from a bulb.

Sound can be measured. Sound waves move through the air, which creates pressure. The speed of sound is around 343 meters per second. You hear noises because your ears respond to this pressure. Decibels are the units for measuring sound pressure, just like the inches are units for measuring length. One a decibel scale, the louder the sound, the higher the number decibels. Zero decibels is the softest sound that can be hears and 194 decibels is the loudest sound that can be created.

Highlights of GUITAR

One of the highlights of the exhibit is the world’s largest playable guitar, a 2,255 pound, 16 foot wide and 43.5 feet long replica of the Gibson Flying V. This Flying V was prototyped in 1957 and released into production in 1958. The list of well-known musicians who have played the Flying V range from Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Stanley of Kiss, and Eddie Van Halen, to name a few.

Other iconic instruments include the Rock Ock, the world’s only playable 8-neck guitar; a PRS Dragon guitar inlaid with 238 pieces of gold, red and green abalone, mother of pearl and the ivory of a wooly mammoth; a Ztar Z7S synthesizer guitar with a button for every fret and string (204 in total); and early Fender Gibson, Ovation and Martin Guitars that date as far back as 1806.

In the hands-on gallery, you can:

• Strum the world’s largest playable guitar, a 43-foot long replica of a Gibson Flying V
• Test your musical memory by playing challenge riffs on a virtual fretboard
• Bang out a beat on a variety of wood types. Which sounds the best?
• “Freeze” a vibrating string using a strobe light
• Design your own dream guitar

The rare instrument exhibit includes over 60 remarkable instruments such as:

• Early Fender, Gibson, Ovation, and Martin guitars (from circa 1835 to present)
• A Ztar Z7S synthesizer guitar with a button for every fret and string – 204 in all
• The Rock Ock, the only playable guitar with 8 necks
• A stunning PRS Dragon guitar inlayed with 238 pieces of gold, red and green abalone; mother of pearl; and woolly mammoth ivory
• Guitars with outrageous paint jobs and shapes designed for rockers like ​Steve Vai


Plan you visit to Discovery Place. GUITAR will be on exhibit from May 30, 2015 – September 7, 2015 and is covered by regular museum admission fees.

The following artists, manufacturers, luthiers, and collectors have provided instruments, information, and/or support to the collection: 

  • Steve Vai
  • Joe Bonamassa
  • Liona Boyd
  • Vic Flick
  • Johnny Winter
  • Adrian Belew
  • C.F. Martin and Company
  • Fender Musical Instruments
  • Pete Brown
  • David Hill/Nina Riccio
  • Phantom Guitarworks
  • EKO
  • National Reophonic
  • The Electrical Guitar Company
  • Dan Larson
  • Rich Maloof
  • PRS Guitars
  • Danser Guitar Works
  • Visionary Intruments
  • Starr Labs
  • XOX
  • Cochran Guitars

Six-String Saturdays at Discovery Place:

This summer, Discovery Place is activating Tryon Street with Six String Saturdays, a free music series featuring genres including jazz, pop, rock, sitar, Celtic, country, bluegrass and folk.

Enjoy live music on the patio near our N. Tryon St. entrance every Saturday at 2:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted). No Museum admission necessary.

May 30 – A Sign of the Times Duo: Van Sachs and Toni Tupponce
June 6 – Sabra Callas
June 13 – School of Rock
June 20 – SITAR from Festival of India by Amrita
June 27 – Shana Blake & Keith Shamel
July 4 – Kevin Jones & Joe Allen
July 11 – School of Rock
July 18 – Tom Billotto
July 25 – Alan Barrington
August 1 – Back Creek Bluegrass Boys
August 8 – School of Rock
August 15 – Bassments
August 22 – The High Ridge Pickers (2:00 p.m.) / Hannah Case (3:30 p.m.)
August 29 – J. L. Davis Duo
September 5 – A Sign of the Times Duo: Van Sachs and Toni Tupponce

Related links:

Summer Adventure List 2015  

April is International Guitar Month -North Carolina Edition 

Summer Adventure List 2015


The best part of working for myself is the flexibility. Hands down. No other benefit or paycheck could trump that. I have the luxury to be home with my sons after school and manage my work to suit to their summer schedules. For a few years now we’ve had a family “summer adventure list.” I guess you might it’s become a thing. As we hear about places throughout the year we take note of something that is summer adventure worthy. There are no rules for our summer adventures, but free is always a good thing. We stick to local spots or venture off on day trips.

Here’s what’s in store for this summer:

Nasher Art Museum

Duke Gardens

The Lily Pond at Duke Gardens in Raleigh, NC

Conservators Center

Greenway walking trails

Historic Stagville


Town Creek Indian Mound

Town Creek Indian Mound #HandmadeNC

Scratch Bakery and Rise Donuts taste test

Duke Lemur Center

Movies (AC and entertainment…perfect for rainy days or sweltering afternoons)

Used book stores

Mt. Airy

Walking tour in downtown Raleigh to photograph public art

Photography scavenger hunt

Golf (mini as well as the real deal)


Exercise together

Paint our interpretations from some of our favorite works at the Nc Museum of Art

Arcade (Last summer we drove to Greensboro in search of an old school arcade, only to arrive in the parking lot and realize it had closed.)

Garland, NC (Top of our list is lunch at Southern Smoke! We also want to check out the Curiosity Shop and Brooks Brothers outlet.)

Abundance Foundation

Durham Bulls and Mudcats baseball

Indoor skydiving

Where will your summer adventures take you?

Guest Post: Artist Art Tyndall in Washington, NC

Walk one block from the waterfront of Little Washington on Water Street and you’ll discover the hidden gem of an art studio where pleinair painter Art Tyndall sells his creations. I stumbled into Art’s studio a few years ago while visiting my aunt, and I make a point to visit his studio on every trek across the state.

Janet and Art Tyndall at his studio in Washington, NC

Art’s studio is a 15×25′ store-front where light streams through the transom windows and his original oil paintings fill the bead – board walls. Looking at the tidewater landscapes, figures and local buildings, you can feel the joy that Art pours from his brush to the canvas. Many would consider painting a second career for Art as he started his self-taught venture at the age of 50.

Each piece that Art creates is one-of-a-kind and very personal. While he enjoys selling his work, even if he did not sell, he would continue to paint. His prices range from $150 to $2,000 and you can commission a special request by contacting him at arttyndallstudio@gmail.com or by visiting him in person at the Water Street Studio on the waterfront of historic Washington, North Carolina.

Washington, NC Waterfront #HandmadeNC

Stop by, say hello and tell him that Janet sent you. I forgot to take him a jar of homemade blackberry jelly, but that’s a great excuse for me to visit in a few months.

Many thanks to my dear friend, Janet Morgan, who introduced me to Art’s art and shared his story with us here at Handmade NC. 

Roundup: Memorial Day Events in North Carolina

Memorial Day honors the sacrifices of those who have served in our military. There are many events held every Memorial Day weekend, and we’re rounding up those happening in North Carolina to make it easier for you to find the events being held on Monday, May 25th, in your town.

  • Celebrate Memorial Day, sponsored by Hope Baptist Church, will feature free North Carolina barbecue, military vehicle rides, live music, a children’s obstacle course, parades and more. This free event is open to the public, rain or shine, at 3721 Quarry Road, outside Wake Forest. Event schedule runs from 9 a.m. to 4:15 pm. Website: www.celebratememorialday.com.
  • The American Legion Post 67, in Cary will hold their annual service from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Hillcrest Cemetery, 600 Page St. Participants are invited to bring lawn chairs. For information, call 919-481-4811 or email carylegion67@aol.com.
  • Johnston County Courthouse has a ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. at the at Market and Second streets in downtown Smithfield. Mike Wegman, a retired U.S. Navy officer, will speak. He teaches naval science at Smithfield-Selma High School.
  • A wreath-laying ceremony at the War Memorial on the north lawn of the State Capitol in Raleigh begins at 10:45 a.m. with music by the St. Francis Brass Quintet followed by bagpiper Robert White at 11:20 a.m. and the invocation, advancement of colors and the “Star-Spangled Banner” at 11:30 a.m. Speaker is retired Marine Maj. Gen. Cornell A. Wilson Jr. Sponsored by The Tar Heel Detachment No. 733 of the Marine Corps League.
  • The Heartland Hospice Memorial Fund will sponsor a Community Memorial Day Service at noon at Raleigh Memorial Park, 7501 Glenwood Ave. There will be refreshments and a balloon release. For details, contact Kristin Lassiter at 919-877-9959
  • Garner will hold its annual Memorial Day observance at 1:30 p.m. at Lake Benson Park (921 Buffalo Road) near the Garner Veterans Memorial. Free to the public.
  • A remembrance by the Town of Cary is 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Veterans Freedom Park, 1513 N. Harrison Ave. Attendees are invited to bring chairs. Parking will be available at Cary Academy across the street. A free shuttle will take guests from the parking lot to Veterans Freedom Park. For information, call 919-469-4061 or search “Veterans Freedom Park Events” at www.townofcary.org
  • The Veterans for Peace will host Memorial Day reflections with poetry, prose and song at 7 p.m. at the Regulator Bookshop, 720 Ninth St., Durham. Free. Speakers include B.J. Freeman, Dale Herman, John Heuer, Joe Moran, the Raging Grannies, Barry Reese, Ahmed Selim, Jim Senter, Douglas Ryder, Vicki Ryder and Sam Winstead. Get more information at 585-314-1413 or peace5942@gmail.com.
  • The annual Memorial Day Concert and Ceremony in Asheville will begin at 2:30 p.m. on the Roger McGuire Green stage of Pack Square Park.
  • The Asheville Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Department will present a Memorial Day Pool-a-Palooza from 12-6 p.m. at the Recreation Park Pool on 75 Gashes Creek Rd.  Celebrate with music, swimming, pool contests, special recognitions, and fun.  General admission is $3. Active and non-active military personnel are FREE with a military I.D. and the first 50 military personnel will receive a Memorial Day goody bag. Contact Randy Shaw at 828-259-5483, or rshaw@ashevillenc.gov for more information.
  • Birkdale Village will hold its annual Memorial Day celebration starting at 7 p.m. Monday. The celebration will include performances by Central Piedmont Community College’s Chorus, a flag-folding ceremony by North Mecklenburg High School’s Junior ROTC, and more. Joseph Reale, senior commander for American Legion Post 321, will speak as the honored guest. Details: www.charlotteonthecheap.com.
  • Gaston Memorial Park and Carothers Funeral Homes will host their annual Memorial Day program, presented by the Gaston County Veterans Council at 10 a.m. Monday. There will be a performance by the Gaston Symphonic Band with ice cream for all veterans and their families at 1200 S. New Hope Road.
  • There will be an open house at the American Military Museum located at 109 W. Second Ave in Gastonia, N.C. For details visit: www.dignitymemorial.com
  • Lake Park in Union County will host its second annual Memorial Day ceremony 11 a.m. to noon Monday at Veterans Pond, 3708 Faith Church Road. Jason Braase of the Wounded Warrior Project will be this year’s keynote speaker. A presentation of colors will be performed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2423 Color Guard. Details: www.members.unioncountycoc.com.
  • The Parade of Veterans will kick off Kannapolis’ Memorial Day ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Monday, beginning at the corner of Laureate Way and Main Street, ending at Veterans Park. The event is hosted by the Beaver-Pittman American Legion Post 115. Norris Dearmon of the Kannapolis Historical Committee will be the guest speaker. Details: 704-920-4311.
  • On Memorial Day, May 25, 2015, at 5:45 pm, people of all generations from across the State will gather together on the deck of the USS North Carolina Battleship to pay their respects. Duke Ladd Music will be performing military and patriotic arrangements. The Battleship is honored this year to have guest speakers Major General Gregory A. Lusk, Adjutant General, North Carolina National Guard, and Senator Richard Burr. The Executive Director of the Battleship, Captain Terry A. Bragg and members of the USS NORTH CAROLINA Battleship Commission invite the public to this free event.
  • The Thomasville Memorial Day Parade and Celebration will begin with a parade at 10 am at the Big Chair on the corner of Main and Salem Streets. This event features 100 American flags in formation and the Army Ground Forces Band. The procession will continue to Memorial Park and Cushwa Stadium. NC Lt. Governor Dan Forrest will speak at 12:30 p.m. The Special Forces Association Parachute Team will jump at 1:15 pm, at 1:30 p.m. there will be presentations, ending with Taps and a gun salute at 2 p.m.. For more information call 336-472-4422
  • The Union County Memorial Day Ceremony and Vietnam Killed In Action Memorial Dedication will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Veterans Memorial park, located at 322 Veterans Drive in Union.

Raising Bertie Film Raises Awareness of Rural Youth



There are pockets of our state where the glow of media attention never shines. In these rural corners are the scars of poverty, dried up opportunities, and lack of education resources. Yet, people in these communities carry on in what amounts to a daily struggle. Generations of families work to overcome their circumstances. Some thrive. Many don’t. When you have the privilege to peek into these towns, you begin to see most ignore — the children. What happens to rural youth in places like Bertie County, North Carolina?

The upcoming feature documentary film Raising Bertie examines just that. The film follows the journey of three young men over five years. They are 15, 17, and 19 years old when the film begins. We watch their lives unfold as we see them through school, jobs, hardships, and more. The stark division in education opportunities in rural North Carolina versus its more urban, populous counties, is so mind boggling you’ll be left questioning if the education programs are run by the same state system.

Few people intimately know life in a small, rural town. Many people harbor misperceptions and discount places like Bertie County. It’s the perpetuation of misperceptions that leave Bertie County out of the collective discussion when considering allocation of resources and investment. Rural America is rich in heritage, tradition, and sense of community. It’s time we listen to the youth voices in particular, for they have a burden to bear and a legacy to create. There are things we can learn from these corners of our state if we just paid attention. The beauty of the film Raising Bertie is how it shifts our paradigm in how we consider rural communities. President Obama has recently introduced an initiative to bring rural communities into the public eye. Raising Bertie puts us one step closer to putting a human face on what rural youth are experiencing.

The film is currently in post-production and should be showing at film festivals early 2016. Soon after there will be a wider release through a variety of outlets. Impressively, Raising Bertie has received Grants from the  MacArthur Foundation and Southern Documentary Fund.

Producer Ian Kibbe, native North Carolinian, will be attending an Artists Convention hosted by Southern Documentary Fund May 15 – 17 in Durham, NC. This event is open to the public but requires you to RSVP to reserve tickets. Ian loves talking to people about this film project so please check out the event and stop by to introduce yourself in that affable, neighborly way we do in our state. I encourage anyone with an interest in the project, like potential venues for screenings or funding opportunities for the film, to reach out to the production team at raisingbertie@gmail.com.

Margaret Byrne – Director
Jon Stuyvesant – Director of Photography / Producer
Ian Robertson Kibbe – Producer
Frances Cedro – Associate Producer
Leslie Simmer – Editor
Executive Producers Justine Nagan and Gordon Quinn

Film is a joint production by:

Kartemquin Films – https://www.kartemquin.com/

Here are ways to stay abreast of what’s happening with the release of Raising Bertie:

  • Follow on social networks
Here’s what I want you to do after you see the film (and as you hear more about it):
  • Sign up for the newsletter. Go on. The link’s right up there.
  • Consider your own perceptions and revelations of rural communities. Reframe. Speak up.
  • Familiarize yourself with this corner of North Carolina. Think about what insights and opportunities we can extrapolate from Bertie County to apply to rural communities around the country.
  • See the film when it comes to your neck of the woods.
  • Tell people about Raising Bertie!
You’ll you get to know the three young men in the film as people you find yourself rooting for, not just characters in the story. Your heart, and your mind, will open up.

Cotton Is Part of NC’s Fiber

There’s one ubiquitous thing we all have tucked away in our closet or nestled into a drawer. Comfy cotton. Be it jammies, a ratty college T-shirt, jeans that rock our booty, or a summer dress, cotton truly is the fabric of our lives. As a marketer and a lover of natural fibers, that ad campaign is the stuff of aphrodisiacs for a girl like me. I don’t believe style and comfort are mutually exclusive. Ask anyone in my family and they’ll tell you how I swoon for fabrics that are a tactile pleasure. That’s why I drift toward cotton again and again. My wedding dress was even cotton. With pockets.

North Carolina has a rich and complicated history with cotton. Our state grows a lot of cotton. If you’ve driven to the beach in the fall you’ve likely passed the cloud-like white fields of billowy cotton at harvest. It’s a sight to behold, truly. I recently met an eighth generation cotton farmer at his family farm in Eastern North Carolina. His family has been farming there since the 1600s. Meeting him gave me a glimpse into farm life and the values of the families who choose to work the earth to make a living. They would say it beats a desk job. They would say farming is in their blood, the very fiber of their being. And it’s apparent. Those Farmers Only dating site ads perpetuate misperceptions and stereotypes about farmers. There’s nary a simpleton in site. I’ve visited a lot of farms in the last few months and I have yet to see a grown man in overalls. Farmers have business acumen as well as a heft of science background. They do more than plant a seed and pray for rain. They are a savvy bunch.



On the farm


That red tractor belonged to Farmer Scott’s father. He’s the only one allowed to drive it, and he says it still hums.


Cotton farming in North Carolina is part of our defining heritage. While textile mills have been shuttered, cotton farming still thrives. Farming, whether for food or textiles, is among the many things we take for granted. Those high threadcount sheets started on a farm somewhere. On this particular farm trip I heard from farmers, plant geneticists, fiber researchers, and trend forecasters. Monsanto sponsored this trip, and lest you be swayed by what’s in the press, I assure you there was no Kool-Aid proffered. I’m lucky to be able to visit the source and learn firsthand from people in the cotton business. I can form my own opinions based on what I saw and learned. There is a whole lot of heart in cotton farming, from the soil scientists to the seed researchers, to the textile researchers, to the farmers themselves.

Suffice it to say, farming is about lot more than plopping a seed in the soil. It’s easy to romanticize our notions of farming. But those romantic visions don’t always help farmers prosper. I’m learning more and more about how to balance the interconnected gears in our food and textile systems. There are myriad things to consider – affordability, the environment, fair wages, migrant workers, sustainability, safety, science, research, nutrition, accessibility, food security, the list goes on…


One of the most recognizable brands.

Headquartered in Cary, North Carolina is Cotton Incorporated. Here’s what Cotton Inc. states as its mission: “Our mission at Cotton Incorporated is to promote the use of and desire for all things cotton, to get people like you to care about what’s in the clothes, sheets and towels you buy. We know amazing things about cotton, and our job is to help you see why cotton is The Fabric of Our Lives®. ” I kind of love it.

There are so many interesting things happening within the walls of the Cotton Incorporated offices. I came home positively swooning about my day there. There’s textile research and fashion styling and laser printing on fabric and crop research and creative marketing and more. We toured the facilities, and I learned that cotton is a tactile pleasure at all its stages.

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Cotton Incorporated was established in 1970 to support farmers in the research, development, and promotion of cotton. The office boasts scientists and designers alike. These people know cotton. There are new developments in cotton like wrinkle-free and stain resistance, as well as breakthroughs in sustainability and new uses for cotton. Just because this is a crop with a legacy, doesn’t mean it’s old and irrelevant.


Something’s always looming at Cotton Inc.



How fun is this? My blog logo laser printed on denim.


Currently playing laser printing on denim