Come see what’s blooming at the Master Gardeners Symposium

13 N1907P16005CThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events. 

The sixth annual Master Gardeners Spring Garden Symposium promises growth on many fronts. Fresh ideas from gardening experts, a bounty of information and a bushel of fun await attendees. The day is packed with inspiring and insightful presentations, vendors, raffles, auction items and friendly faces. March 21, head to Ramada Plaza at the Bordeaux Convention Center and dig in to one of the area’s most refreshing springtime events. 

Sponsored by the Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer Association, the event brings guest speakers Joe Lamp’l, creator, executive producer and host of the Emmy-award-winning national PBS series “Growing a Greener World”; Kerry Ann Mendez, an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant whose international gardening webinars are enjoyed by thousands; and Jason Weathington NC State/Cumberland County Extension urban horticulture agent and landscape architect.

The doors open at 8 a.m. with a welcome set for 8:45 a.m. Come early and browse the many vendor booths and silent auction and raffle items.

Mendez opens the program at 9 a.m. with a presentation titled “The Budget-Wise Gardener: Plant the Best for Less! Money-Saving Tips for Purchasing Plants Plus Cost-Saving Garden Designs,” which is based on her newest book, The Budget-Wise Gardener. In it, she will talk about how to become a savvy garden shopper.  “I also talk about interesting venues and resources and ways to purchase plants beyond the standard garden center,” said Mendez. “I encourage people to support family-owned garden centers. There are many other venues, though, that are wonderful. Many flower and garden shows have adopted the policy that at the end of the show, many plants that were used in the display beds in the show will go on sale. You can also get good deals on hardscaping décor. 

“Another thing becoming popular is seed banks at libraries where the library has a seed bank and most are edible plants. You check out the seeds, and your responsibility is — at the end of the season —  to return some seeds from your harvest. Many organizations also host classes to teach people how to grow their own foods. This is becoming big in inner cities and other food deserts.”

Mendez noted that she will talk about  10-15 different ways gardeners can get the most out of the gardening budget without giving up quality.

From 10-10:30 a.m. there will be a break followed by Weathington’s presentation “The Outdoor Room.” Weathington is a North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent, Agriculture - Urban Horticulture, at the Cumberland County Center. It’s not unusual to get inspired by an outdoor space seen on a home improvement or gardening show, Weathington noted. It’s also not unusual for the end result to be less-than-stellar. Sometimes even embarrassing. He aims to help change that.

“The focus of my talk will give people the confidence to go out and create an amazing space, which I think everyone desires to have but very few know how to create,” said Weathington. “It’s important to go back to basic landscape elements and how you can use them to our advantage. Most of us need to learn some of the basics.

“To me the greatest advantage of an outdoor room is the amount of time you spend outdoors. You are trying to increase the level of comfort because if it is really cold or hot, you won’t be out there long. What you are trying to do is reduce those harsh conditions and make it more pleasant, which is better.”

And part of that, Weathington said, means getting it right the first time. “Be careful who you take advice from. Making mistakes can get really expensive and frustrating. I had a professor in grad school who talked about experiential quality – that is what a lot of outdoor spaces lack.”

A seated lunch is set for 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Lunch is included in the $70 admission price. This is also the time to get in any last-minute bids for the auction, as it closes at 12:45 p.m. Local plant guru and horticultural expert Roger Mercer will speak briefly from 12:45-1 p.m.

Mendez returns to present “Gardening Simplified: Plants and Design Solutions for Time-Pressed and Maturing Gardeners” from 1-2 p.m. This inspiring lecture provides easy- to-follow right-sizing strategies, recommended no-fuss plant material and design tips for stunning year-round gardens that will be as close to ‘autopilot’ as you can get. The lecture is based on Mendez’s book “The Right-Size Flower Garden.”

“Gardening brings such pleasure to our heart and soul, and it is healthy for our heart and mind,” Mendez said. “The emotional, physical and spatial benefits of gardening at any size is so rewarding. I wish more people would not be intimidated by gardening. I wish they would get a pot and plant a seed and just try it. … It is so healing and beneficial.”

There will be another break from 2-2:30 p.m. This is also when auction winners will be posted.

The final presentation of the day runs from 2:30-3:30 p.m. and comes from  Lamp’l. Through video and award-winning photography, attendees will  meet fascinating people, see interesting places and learn about innovative ideas of people positively impacting their urban communities and beyond – all with a common thread of urban gardening.“We look to tell the stories of inspiring people doing great things for the planet through gardening,” said Lamp’l.

“We look for those stories that are new to people — innovators, trendsetters or newsmakers. We set out for stories across the country and bring back footage and memories and turn it into a TV show. I am gonna take about 15 of those stories and share them with the audience with a focus on urban garden stories about people who don’t have a place to garden or know how to garden.” 

 This event is a fundraiser for to support local horticulture efforts and for scholarships for Fayetteville Technical Community College horticulture students.

 “We give two scholarships at $1,500,” said Cumberland County Master Gardener Spring Gardening Symposium Chairperson  Judy Dewar. “We also offer grants to teachers who offer horticulture classes. And we strive to find ways to educate our county residents.”

Dewar added that this event is for every level of gardener – “There is something from the most adept gardener to the one who has never planted a seed.”  Search the symposium on Eventbrite to purchase tickets or for more details.

Gilbert Theater presents ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged’

11 the complete worksThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events. 

Whether you are intrigued by slapstick comedies or you appreciate Shakespeare’s works, a merger of the Bard’s plays and hilarity will have you in stitches and on the edge of your seat. “The  Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged” will open at Gilbert Theater on March 27. 

The play was one of the longest running plays in the West End, London’s theater district, ranking No. 20. It showed for nine years with more than 3,000 performances of the production. 

Performing the show is a large feat. “It’s basically three guys who run through all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in about an hour and forty-five minutes. As you can imagine, it tends to get a little silly,” Artistic Director Lawrence Carlisle III explains. 

Wesley Wilburn, Chris Walker and Matt Gore make up the cast. Walker, aside from his acting resume in other cities, has performed in several plays at the Gilbert, including “The Laramie Project,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “A Secret Garden.” Wilburn was in the Gilbert’s Glee program. This is his first lead role in a main stage show. He was in “It’s a Wonderful Life” two years ago. The show is Gore’s Gilbert debut, although he has performed in Goldsboro at the Neuse Little Theater and Theater in the Park in Raleigh. He’s been in shows with Center Stage Theater as well. 

Due to the amount of Shakesperian ground to be covered in conjunction with a small cast, the production is zany and off-the-wall. 

“The show is kind of meta in that they talk to the audience quite a bit,” Carlisle explains. “Each of the actors is playing a fictionalized version of themselves. When it was written, it was written by three guys and the characters are just their names. But then they go through each of Shakespeare’s plays with each of them playing multiple roles even if it’s only for a moment. Think Monty Python doing Shakespeare. It’s hysterical.”

There is no real set to speak of. Most of the story is told through acting and quick costume changes.

Carlisle looks forward to the community seeing the play because he feels that it fills an important need. “With everything going on in the world right now, I think maybe people need to take a break and just enjoy some silliness,” he said. 

“We’ve been rehearsing close to three weeks, and I laugh every night at rehearsal and I’ve seen them doing it every day. They still manage to make me laugh.” 

The show runs at the Gilbert Theater from March 27 to April 12. Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.gilberttheater.com/ or by calling 910-678-7186.

Local organizations to compete in the Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown

09 lip syncDue to the spread of COVID-19, as a precaution, the Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown has been postponed. The new date is June 20. The location and time remain the same (Crown Ballroom, 6 p.m. Social Hour & 7 p.m. Show Time). For patrons who purchased tickets for the March 21 show, you may use the same tickets for the June 20 show. There is no need to exchange them for new tickets. For patrons who purchased tickets but are unable to use their tickets for the June 20 show and who wish to receive a refund, please follow these instructions:

  • If tickets were purchased online, you may call the Crown Center box office at 910438-4100 to be refunded electronically. Tickets will be refunded in the manner in which they were paid.
  • If tickets were purchased in person at the Crown Center box office, you must go to the box office for a refund and present a valid ID. Tickets will be refunded in the manner in which they were paid.
  • Requests for refunds must be made by May 1, 2020.

Sponsors who received tickets as part of their sponsor benefits will be contacted directly by the CAC.

It’s a safe to wager that most people have spent some time lip syncing to their favorite jams. Whether it’s when a catchy song plays on the radio or a tune worth foot-tapping for plays in a movie, some bops are hard not to mouth the words to. In Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown, which will take place March 21 at 6 p.m. in the Crown Ballroom,  local organizations and individuals take their best lip sync routines to the stage and go head-to-head for a great cause.

The event’s proceeds make up about 20% of the annual budget for the Child Advocacy Center, the nonprofit charitable organization that puts on the event. The CAC serves the community in a variety of ways, with outreach programs, child abuse awareness campaigns, teaching programs, and of sex-trafficking awareness initiatives, to name a few. In the fiscal year of 2019, the CAC served 730 children.

 Julia Adkins, who is the chair of Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown, projects that the upcoming event will, as it always is, be a huge success. “This is our 4th year,” Adkins said, “In the past 3 years, we’ve raised $30,000 each year. The Showdown is on track to be another sellout show, and we are excited — truly blessed.”

This year, there are 14 acts. The organizers of the event invited competitors from years past to compete again, but new contenders will be ready to face off as well. Among the competitors, law enforcement, schools, healthcare professionals and local businesses are represented.

Last year, the winning group performed a song from “The Greatest Showman.” This year, Adkins said a variety of popular hits include songs by Cher, Lizzo, Ike and Tina Turner and the Backstreet Boys.

While the primary purpose of participating in the Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown is supporting the CAC, contenders are also competing for the Top Fundraiser, People’s Choice Award, Best Choreography, Best Costume and the highest of the honors, Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Stars. Trophies and plaques are awarded to the winners.
 The judges are Toni King, Tim Edwards, Victoria Hardin and Bill Bowman. The emcees are Michael Brash and Taylor Morgan.

“My favorite part is being able to watch the crowd’s reaction, who are giving up their time, coming together for such a great cause, and that’s for the children,” Adkins said.
Another feature of the event is the raffle. The prizes are a 55-inch TV, an iPad and a “weekend getaway in the ‘ville,” which covers a hotel stay and gift certificates to local businesses for a perfect “staycation.” Tickets are $5 or five for $20.

 Hors d’oeuvres, desserts and cocktails are provided by Blue Pineapple, Burney’s, Caruso Confections, Dairy Queen, Freddy’s and Rosalia’s. The green room is provided by Chick-fil-a.

Adkins admires the generosity of the competitors. “They give up their time and their money,” Adkins said. “They don’t care if they don’t win. They just want to support a great cause.”

The Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown is March 21 at 6 p.m. Tickets are still available at the  Cape Fear Tix website. While tickets will be sold at the door if they are available, they have been sold out in years past, and Adkins recommends that tickets are purchased in advance.

CFRT’s ‘Murder for Two’ pure comedic entertainment

07 Murder for TWo Everybody loves a good mystery!

Let me clue you in on a great way to spend a remarkable evening, or perhaps a Saturday or Sunday matinee, March 5-22. A sold-out house had a great time this past Thursday night at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, from 7:30- 9 p.m., trying to solve a musical murder mystery. Inside, we were all warm, comfortable, giggly, awestruck and, at times, laughingly flabbergasted.

“Murder for Two,” directed by Laura Josepher and starring Trace Pool and Ben Miller, suited everyone’s sense of humor, from the youngest to the oldest person. Josepher and the CFRT creative team made sure the actors, script, props, set design, costumes and lighting set the perfect artistic tone.

Who would have thought that weather, murder, mystery, music and a cast of two could have pulled off this “whodunit” with such ease, comedy, endurance, enthusiasm, energy, grace and style?

The plot of this knee-slapping play takes place in a remote New England mansion and centers on a murder that happens during a birthday party. Trace Pool plays investigator Marcus Moscowitz, who is in charge of the case, and Ben Miller plays several different characters who are persons-of-interest for the murder. The suspects include the murder victim’s wife Dahlia, ballerina Barrette Lewis (my personal favorite), psychiatrist Dr. Griff, neighbors Murray and Barb Flandon, three young choir boys, and the mysterious “Perfect Partner” for investigator Moscowitz, who always abides by perfect protocol. Since there are both male and female suspects, Miller and Pool tested their entire physical, vocal and visual prowess to pull off very skillful and challenging performances.

 Watching Miller and Pool play off each other in such an easygoing, no-nonsense style was delightful. They seemed to be able to read each other’s minds, movements and mannerisms, which were essential to pulling the audience into their every line, every animation and every laugh. The audience was included in the set of the play and even participated in one scene.

When questioned about what they liked best and least, the audience said much the same “the ease, the professionalism, the antics, the singing, the piano playing were the best.” Least enjoyed, mentioned only by men, was “the mental concentration it took to stay in each moment,” but they admitted it was worth it in the end.

Writing this review was a first for me. Then it came to me that I do not usually agree with movie, song or play critics. For me, it is all about pure entertainment, what it makes me think or feel, what gives me joy and pleasure, what makes me sad or cry. So, for my first play review, I just went with what felt good to me and made me smile, and what I saw made others smile as well — and that, folks is entertainment.

Latest Articles

  • Local leaders seek healing and reconciliation in Fayetteville
  • Fayetteville monuments honor rich history
  • Local ice cream spots make summer sweeter
  • FTCC’s paralegal technology program offers rewarding career
  • Shift happens