coverLAFAYETTE’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

Fayetteville’s history is as vast and varied as the people who live here. From her earliest days, Fayetteville has embraced and celebrated the strength diversity brings to a community. On the weekend of Sept. 9-11 two of Fayetteville’s most-loved events offer a bevy of activities that are sure to keep attendees entertained, enlightened and well-fed: Lafayette’s Birthday Celebration and the 26th Annual Greek Fest.

Fayetteville, North Carolina, was the first city to take Lafayette’s name and the only one he ever visited in person. The significance of this is not lost on history buffs. Those unfamiliar with the Marquis’ adventure and his role in the founding of our country can get a feel for the contributions our city’s namesake made to a fledgling republic centuries ago. “If you live in Fayetteville you need to understand how far back our history goes,” said Lafayette Society spokesperson Hank Parfitt. “We have a unique connection to a real hero of the Revolutionary War.” And that is just what this celebration is about – connecting the community to its history, while having fun.

The Lafayette Birthday Celebration starts on Friday, Sept. 9 at Methodist University with Arias and Artifacts. View artifacts and new additions to Methodist University’s Lafayette Collection. It starts at 5:30 p.m. and includes a short program. “There are ceramic pictures, snuff boxes, scarves and other items that manufacturers made to celebrate Lafayete’s visit,” said Parfitt. “Much like you would by a T-shirt at a rock concert, it is an early example of merchandising.” The program is followed by a live performance of French music by Gail Morfesis and Friends. The concert is at 7 p.m. at Hensdale Chapel. 

On Saturday, Sept. 10, trace Lafayette’s steps through Fayetteville on the Lafayette Trail Tour.  Commander Bruce Daws of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry leads the tour and shares relevant facts and information about Lafayette and what it was like for him to serve under George Washington during the Revolutionary War. The tour begins at the Transportation and Local History Museum and includes coffee and croissants. Tickets cost $30. Call 678.8899 for information.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Museum of the Cape Fear presents Festival of Yesteryear, which features reenactors, music, toys, games and more from the Colonial and Revolutionary War periods. Lafayette, portrayed by reenactor Mark Schneider will be in attendance as well. Youngsters will enjoy Apprentice Alley where they can make crafts and participate in hands-on activities. Find out more at www.ncdcr.gov/ncmcf.

Downtown shops host the Lafayette Birthday Sidewalk Sale from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

From noon to 2 p.m., enjoy birthday cake and ice cream at Cross Creek Park. The 82nd Airborne Band Jazz ensemble will be in attendance and Lafayette is scheduled to make an appearance at 1 p.m. “He is the official Lafayette at Colonial Williamsburg and probably the country’s premier Lafayette reenactor. It is truly a performance to remember.

While you are downtown, visit the Market House exhibit Lafayette in Fayetteville -1825. Lafayette spoke from the Market House balcony on his visit to Fayetteville in 1825. Take a peek inside and learn more on the second floor where the exhibit is housed. 

Mysteries of the 1825 Lafayette Map of Fayetteville is a new event in this celebration. “The Lafayette map was printed in 1825. It is a very detailed map of what was Fayetteville, and compared to modern day survey technology, it is very accurate,” said Parfitt. “At one time it was thought were only 15 copies in the world, including one in the Library of Congress. Then a cache of these maps were found in the home of local descendants of John McRae.” McRae was an early publisher of The Fayetteville Observer. Bruce Daws will speak about the map at City Center Gallery and Books at 6 and 7 p.m., where a copy of the map will also be on display.

From 6-8:30 p.m., the Wine Café, located at 108 Hay Street, will host a French wine tasting. A guest speaker is set to explain the characteristics of wine from different French region. This event is free. No reservations are required, but it does fill up fast. 

For more information about the Lafayette Birthday Celebration, go to http://www.lafayettesociety.org.

GREEK FEST

For more than a quarter century, Fayetteville’s Greek residents have opened their churches and their hearts to the community at the annual Greek Fest. It is an entire weekend of music, culture, food and fun. This is 26th annual Greek Fest. It is a great way to get a taste of the Greek culture without even leaving town. The celebration starts on Friday and runs through Sunday. “We really want to make this a community event, not just a Greek event. We have several organizations from the community that will be there including the Sheriff’s Department, the state patrol, the fire department and even artillery displays from Fort Bragg. The mayor is coming to speak, too.” said Dr. John Poulos event co-chair. “We continue to use proceeds from the festival to support autism research, the Cape Fear Valley Foundation, the American Red Cross and other charities in the community.”

This longstanding tradition has many favorites. The food is always a big hit with vendors offering traditional Greek fare like gyros, souvlaki and more. Follow up your meal with a delightful homemade Greek pastry. Baklava, is a favorite, but just one of the many delicious confectionary options. Wash down the pastries with authentic Greek coffee or a refreshing glass of Greek beer or wine. 

Music is an integral part of the Greek culture. It is lively and upbeat and brings home the flavor of the festival. Throughout the weekend, members of the congregation wear traditional costumes and demonstrate the dances of their homeland. “We will have a lot of dancing throughout the weekend,” said Poulos. “If anyone wants to join in or learn the dances, we will teach them how to do it. We want to share our culture and our religion with the community. There will also be guided church tours throughout the weekend.”

Each year, the festival sells raffle tickets for a trip to Athens, Greece. Tickets are $5 or 5 tickets for $20.

There are some new things to look for this year as well. “We are adding at Zorbathon,” said Kelly Papagikos. “Since exercise is a big part of people’s lives, we wanted to include it in our festivities as well. So we are having a zumbathon on Saturday morning to benefit Victory Junction.”

Poulos noted there is even more to look forward to, “We have simulators that people can get inside and also there will be military equipment on display for people to enjoy. We will also have more vendors.”

The festival takes place at the Hellenic Center at 614 Oakridge Avenue. Find out more about the Greek Festival at  www.stsch.nc.goarch.org.

While it makes for a full weekend, both the Lafayette Society and the congregation of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church have much to offer in the way of entertainment, activities and education. “We are happy to partner with the Lafayette Society to bring two great events to Fayetteville for one great weekend.”

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