08SummerSoundsCape Fear Botanical Garden provides not only a beautiful natural oasis for relaxation; it also provides entertaining and educational events. This summer, visitors to the garden can experience a performance series called “Third Thursdays.” 

Every third Thursday of the month from March to September, the garden is filled with different types of education and entertainment. Events range in scope from piano concerts to sustainable workshopping. The varied offerings are entirely intentional. 

“Our Third Thursday series is a way for us to connect with a larger part of the community,” said Taryn Hughes, marketing manager at Cape Fear Botanical Garden. “We want to be able to attract different crowds, so each event is a whole new experience. We also want to give visitors the opportunity to walk the grounds after hours.”

The second Third Thursday features a piano player, but it is not a typical piano concert. “Our next Third Thursday is Piano Pizzazz on June 15. Our hours are extended to 9 p.m., and the programming will start at 6 p.m.,” Hughes said. “It is a family-friendly event, so feel free to bring children! 

“This will be different from a normal piano recital since Casey T. Cotton is not only a performer but also an entertainer. You’ll be able to enjoy music and laugh the night away. It’s the perfect combination. Beer and wine will be available from our cash bar and the food truck, R Burger, will be serving up their best.” 

Casey T. Cotton was born in St. Louis and raised in California. He began playing the piano when he was just 7 years old. Music was a hobby for him during his childhood and his military career. 

It remained a hobby until after he retired from the military and the defense contract business. Now, he focuses on his music career full time. As a professional pianist, singer and songwriter he travels and performs at venues and events across the country. In 2016, Cotton founded Blazin’ Keys Entertainment, which specializes in live dueling piano shows. 

In addition to the incredible entertainment, Third Thursdays also offer the opportunity to see the garden from a different perspective. Third Thursday events last from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. 

Under normal circumstances, the garden closes at 5 p.m., so attending one of these events showcases the evening beauty of the area. “We plan to have the event in our beautiful Orangery, but guests are more than welcome to walk around the garden and soak up nature in a different light,” Hughes said. 

The next installation of Third Thursday is Garden Folk on July 20. There will be folk music and the author of “Gardening in the South,” Mark Weathington. Participants can enjoy music amongst the flowers and chat with Weathington about his work. 

Third Thursday is specifically a summer series. Admission to Third Thursday is free with membership or paid admission to the garden. 

The last event will be held in September, but the Cape Fear Botanical Garden has events all year-round. Find out more about them at www.capefearbg.org. 

Photo: Casey T. Cotton will perform on June 15 for Cape Fear Botanical Garden's Piano Pizzazz night. 

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