Downtown Summer Nights Concert Series brings free entertainment to downtown Fayetteville

10summernightslogoThe Downtown Summer Nights Concert Series takes place every Thursday evening through Aug. 22 in Fayetteville’s Cool Spring Downtown District. Attendees enjoy free live music from 5:30-9 p.m. on the 100 block of Person Street.

“The purpose of the event is the title, which is ‘Downtown Summer Nights’ in Fayetteville with local and national acts,” said Kelly West, promotions and marketing director of Cumulus Broadcasting, LLC. “There is a lot happening in Fayetteville all of the time … you walk around Hay Street, Gillespie Street, Green Street and Person Street and see the culture and how amazing it is.”

West explained that whenever there is a large local event, it almost always involves one of those streets. For this reason, the event organizers looked at Person Street and felt it would be the perfect place to have the Downtown Summer Nights Concert Series. That’s partly why they created the series — to build even more excitement around something happening downtown.

The event features live music, various food, clothing and business vendors, a beer and wine garden, a kids’ activity area and a misting tent known as the chill zone.

The concert series lineup includes Sherman Neckties and Sidewinder, July 18; the Eastline Band and the Breakfast Club, July 25; Lee Jean Jr. and That Nation Band, August 1; Tyrek and Lotus Sun and Sail On, Aug. 8; 80’s Unplugged and Earth, Wind & Fire Tribute Band, Aug. 15; and Dead City Symphony and Heartbreaker Aug. 22.

“We would love to see 500-600 people at this event, so bring your kids and your dogs on a leash,” said West. “There is no heavy metal or rap music. We will have country/rock, soul, ’80s rock and ’80s tribute bands.

“We would not be able to do this if it wasn’t for our lovely sponsors, who are the Cool Spring Downtown District, Healy Wholesale, Rimtyme, Karma Culture, Dirtbag Ales, Fascinate- U Children’s Museum, Sugar’s, Isabella Effon, Five Star Entertainment, our radio stations and more,” said West. “We invite everyone to come out and enjoy this familyfriendly event on Person Street.”

The event is free for all ages and open to the public. For more information, call 509-901-3467.

7 Branch Farm celebrates National Day of the Cowboy

01UAC071719001It’s been 14 years since the first National Day of the Cowboy. Once a year, on the fourth Saturday of July, cowboys and cowgirls all over the country strap on their boots in memory of the Wild West and the simple yet strong values that came with it. The folks at 7 Branch Farm in Lumber Bridge, North Carolina, celebrate and embody these values, including good stewardship, honesty and hard work, in their everyday lives.

The public is invited to celebrate 7 Branch’s sixth annual National Day of the Cowboy on Friday night, July 26, and Saturday night, July 27.

The rodeo includes all the favorite pastimes of the Old West, including cowboy mounted-shooting. This attraction consists of horsemen shooting .45 caliber pistols at targets while riding horses, according to Buddy Blackman, general manager of 7 Branch Farm.

Professional entertainer Cowpaty the Rodeo Clown will be back as will the Carolina Stars Trick Riders. Carolina Stars Leslie Reed and Lori Graham are the original trick riders from the Dixie Stampede, and they’ve worked with 7 Branch Farm since its first National Day of the Cowboy, according to Blackman.

The duo is trained in adrenaline-spiking stunts: “Trick riders stand on top of (the horses), ride on the side of them, ride them backwards,” Blackman said. Perhaps because of Carolina Stars, 7 Branch’s National Day of the Cowboy rodeo just keeps growing and growing. “Every year, we have to add more bleachers,” Blackman said. For the same reason, he also encourages attendees to arrive early with lawn chairs in hand.

There will be plenty for the kids to do, too, including bounce houses, face painting, free pony rides and a bucking machine, which both kids and adults can ride. Raging Rooster Catering, along with taco trucks and ice cream venders, will provide refreshments. Snow cones, funnel cakes and other concession foods will also be available, Blackman said. In the spirit of family-friendliness, there will be no alcohol at the event.

The fun continues with a few highenergy competitions. According to Blackman, 64 competitors from all along the East Coast will perform in bareback horse riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, cowgirls breakaway roping and barrel racing.

There’s a reason this event draws so many competitors to 7 Branch — 14 more this year than last year. “We were the first one in North Carolina,” Blackman said, speaking about the rodeo. When the National Day of the Cowboy Organization reached out to 7 Branch to start a North Carolina-based rodeo, the farm stepped up to the plate. To this day, 7 Branch is the only sanctioned venue in North Carolina that hosts National Day of the Cowboy.

National Day of the Cowboy began in 2005 when Wyoming’s late U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas sponsored the event as a day to celebrate the contribution of the cowboy and cowgirl to America’s heritage and culture. The event has been growing ever since. In fact, North Dakota passed the National Day of the Cowboy bill into law in April of this year, the 14th state to do so since 2005.

A piece of the culture celebrated at this event is the lifestyle exemplified by America’s cowboys. The Wild West didn’t have a written law for frontiersmen and frontierswomen to live by. In fact, these people took pride in following their own unwritten rules rather than those set by the federal government. Today, cowboys are remembered for the principled way of life outlined in the following Code of Conduct.

The National Day of the Cowboy Code of Conduct for Cowboys & Cowgirls:

1. Live each day with honesty and courage.

2. Take pride in your work. Always do your best.

3. Stay curious. Study hard and learn all you can.

4. Do what has to be done and finish what you start.

5. Be tough, but fair.

6. When you make a promise, keep it.

7. Be clean in thought, word, deed and dress.

8. Practice tolerance and understanding of others.

9. Be willing to stand up for what’s right.

10. Be an excellent steward of the land and its animals.

Like the cowboys of the frontier, the people at 7 Branch know something about hard work. Blackman’s father, Ron Payne, started the family-run farm 10 years ago with only eight acres. Today, 7 Branch boasts 30-plus acres and hosts several rodeos and training events every year.

The family also gives back to the community. Part of the rodeo’s proceeds benefit Cape Fear Valley’s Friends of the Cancer Center, which 7 Branch has supported for several years.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.dayofthecowboync.com or at the gate. Tickets are $15 per person, and kids 3 years old and under get in free. Active-duty military receives one free child pass with a paying adult. Gates open at 5 p.m., and the event begins at 8 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday night. 7 Branch Arena is located just outside Hope Mills at 62 McGougan Rd., Lumber Bridge. For more information, call 910-813-7881.

Summertime is for fun and learning

12summerSchool is out. The kids can sleep late, swim in the pool, play video games and hang out with their friends. But that doesn’t mean they should stop learning. Here is a list of recommendations to ensure your child has a summer full of meaningful learning experiences.


Summertime reading is a must. Take your child to the library as often as possible during the summer months. They should read daily and answer questions for comprehension. Create a word wall and have them practice the words on a consistent basis. Make sure your child reads both fiction and nonfiction literature. You can browse the internet for free nonfiction reading websites. Children can also watch educational videos and listen to audiobooks.


It is crucial to build both reading and math into everyday activities. For example, a trip to the grocery store can be fun and educational. Make a list of items that are needed, and give your child a calculator to calculate the cost of the items. Read and follow a recipe with your child. Cooking or baking is a wonderful math lesson on measurement and following directions in sequential order. Practice math flashcards for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Summer programs

Research various summer programs and select the one that best suits your child. You want to find camps that will create an opportunity for the growth of independence in your child. Your child will learn how to interact with other children, which is an important social skill.

Educational trips

Some examples of educational trips to take with your children include the zoo, museums, a planetarium, local exhibits, a state or national park, a farm, the botanical garden, historical sites, local events, camping trips and concerts.

Vacation activities

Quality family time during summer vacation is important, too. This is the perfect opportunity to spend time together doing the things you love the most. When you return from your vacation, encourage your child to write in his or her journal about their favorite things that happened during the trip.

Healthy conversations

Learning begins at home. It is important for parents to have healthy conversations with their children. Teach them to say good morning when they wake up in the morning and enter the classroom and/or front office. Teach them to say please and thank you. Consistent conversation is the key to promoting children’s language development. We want our future leaders to know how to effectively communicate with others.


Children learn through play. Limit their screen time this summer, and allow them to do the things we did as kids — like ride their bicycle, play hideand- seek, make mud pies, play dodgeball and kickball, set up a tent in the backyard, and run and get wet in the water sprinkler.

Have a safe and happy summer!

Top 40, Blues coming to Hope Mills park

16DJ King JamesThe sound of music is coming to Hope Mills again. The latest music makers in the town will be DJ King James and his fellow disc jockeys.

Lamarco Morrison of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department said he was approached by James, who specializes in top 40, rhythm and blues, and pop music that features family-friendly lyrics.

James' idea was to provide music in the park free of charge to the town. Morrison said James works with a group of five DJs who have done this kind of performance at other venues.

The plan is to hold the first event in Hope Mills on Saturday, July 13, setting up a stage at the basketball courts in Hope Mills Municipal Park. The performance will last from 6-8 p.m.

Morrison said he also plans to coordinate with Chancer McLaughlin of the town administration staff to have food trucks on hand for the event.

Including the free music, Morrison said he hopes to have some kind of charitable donation event taking place at the same time, but a final decision on that had not been made at press time.

“It’s mainly going to be about the music and giving the community something to do in the park on a Saturday,’’ Morrison said. “I’ve done those in other cities, and it amazed me we didn’t have a music in the park (event).

“I think it will work perfect for us. It was perfect timing for (James) to contact me.

Morrison stressed the music for the performance will feature clean lyrics with no profanity and nothing suggestive. “It will be your top 40,’’ he said. “Whatever the radio is playing and whatever the kids are dancing to. It’s about (being) family-friendly.’’

James has previously performed for Hope Mills events like the health fair.

Photo: DJ King James

Rock’n on the River adds another free local music venue

11rivermistRock’n on the River, presented by Healy Wholesale Company, Inc., is set for Friday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. The music event will take place at 1122 Person St., behind Deep Creek Outfitters.

“Rock’n on the River is Fayetteville’s newest free music venue where adults can take kids, be safe, have police protection, have beer and food and listen to free music,” said Greg Adair, founder of Rock’n on the River. Adair compared the event to a small-scale Fayetteville After Five, noting that Rock’n on the River is usually on the third Friday of the month.

The August concert features Adair’s band, Rivermist, and a Leonard Skynyrd tribute band. “Rivermist is a great group of guys,” said Adair. “We have been together since 2014 as a band.

“The direction changed at the end of 2016. We were limiting ourselves to classic rock, and you cannot limit yourself to one genre and succeed there unless you are a tribute band.”

Adair added that some of the biggest things that have contributed to Rivermist’s success locally are being humble, approachable and kind to people. The band has a Christian background. Its members believe their success and anything they do is a blessing, and they know where it comes from. 

“Two of the band members, who are another guy and I, had open-heart surgery years ago, and both of us are walking testimonies,” Adair said. “It has been 10 years now, and I feel better now than when I was in my 30s.”

“My purpose of the event is to have another family-friendly event that all families can go to that does not cost an arm and a leg,” said Adair. “It has been my vision to do this. Plus, it is right by the river, and nobody has really done anything with the Cape Fear River in years.”

Adair added that the first Rock’n on the River show hosted approximately 440 people. At the last show, there were 580 people, which keeps it intimate. The audience is not far from the stage and can hear the music easily.

“I want people to come to the event and be relaxed and drawn to it,” said Adair. “I want to thank Healy Wholesale. I appreciate their friendship and support because we could not do this without them.”

The event is free and open to the public. Food, beer and drinks will be available for purchase. Parking begins at 5 p.m. and costs $5 per car. Coolers and containers are not allowed. Bring chairs, umbrellas and blankets. For more information or to become a sponsor, follow the event on Facebook or email rocknontheriver@gmail.com.

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