Many in the Fayetteville community have given back to help Ukraine and its citizens as the small country fights Russia. The Gilbert Theater plans to join that growing group of supporters.
Two summer camps at Gilbert Theater will perform a Ukrainian play called “The Blabbermouth, The Puff Monster and The Wolf.”
The play comprises three comedic folk tales from Ukraine. In “The Blabbermouth,” a clever woodsman devises an ingenious ruse to keep a buried treasure secret, despite his gossipy wife. The following story is about the goofy, cellar-dwelling “Puff Monster,” who bites off more than it can chew. The last tale, “Sirko and the Wolf,” tells the story of two wolfy cousins who outwit a cranky, noodle-wielding Babushka. Tammy Woody, the education director at Gilbert Theater, says they chose this play because the playwright, Patrick Rainville Dorn, and Pioneer Drama Service will donate all of their royalties to the International Red Cross’s Ukraine Emergency Appeal.
“The Gilbert Theater is very outreach-oriented. As a non-profit, we look to help other people. The situation in Ukraine is sad, and when this came through, it just seemed like something we could be a part of to help the country,” Woody said.
On top of purchasing the rights to the play, the Gilbert Theater will also be donating a portion of the proceeds from the camps to the Red Cross in support of Ukraine. According to Pioneer Drama Service’s website, the Gilbert Theater is one of eight current productions of this Ukrainian play.
Performers will come from two camps, separated by age. The first camp is for kids 12 to 18 years old. Their performances will be held on July 22 at 7 p.m. and July 23 at 1 p.m. The second camp, scheduled for the week of Aug. 8, is for kids aged 7 to 11 years old. Their performances will be held on Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 13 at 1 p.m.
Woody says the camp will teach the kids all about acting, singing and dancing to prepare them to perform the play within one week.
“We will have theater games and exercises. They will have a vocal performance to learn the vocals and choreography time to learn the movements. We will be adding some songs to the play,” Woody said. “It takes a lot of time to put a play together and to do it in one week. It’s a pretty fast-paced week.” Details on ticketing for productions have not been finalized at the time of Up & Coming Weekly’s interview with Woody. Still, she says more information about the performances will be available on their website and social media pages.
Camp registration is still open for the younger age group. Registration costs are $150 for one child. Each additional sibling is $125. To learn more about the camps, email Woody at email@example.com for more information.
Fairies, flowers and rainbows set the stage for a fantastic downtown adventure on July 29 and 30.
Expect a hint of enchantment in the air as Midsummer Magic returns for its seventh year with more fairy fun for the entire family. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s tale of magic and mischief, “A Midsummers Night’s Dream,” the fun-filled two-day scavenger hunt will send participants on a journey around downtown Fayetteville to search for clues.
Following a fairy journal, which can be found online or at several downtown businesses, those participating will journey to a fairy door, behind which will be a letter to help reveal a secret message. And, like any good guidebook, the fairy journal will also point out where participants can find special promotions, points of interest and special activities.
Everyone is encouraged to dress in their most fantastic fairy, sprite, goblin, dwarf or wizard ensemble for a chance to win this year’s costume contest. Participants only need to tag their picture on their personal social media page with #MidsummerMagicFayNC to enter for a chance to win prizes.
The costume contest is separated into categories for pets, groups, adults and children aged 12 to 17, 5 to 10 and 0 to 4 years old. The LlamaCorns of Midsummer Magic will return for their second year, provided by Shaky Tails Party Animals, and performers will be scattered throughout the event to delight those on their quest.
The day promises a wealth of unique sights and sounds, which is what Betsy McElwee, former social media marketing coordinator for the Downtown Alliance, is looking forward to the most.
“I love walking around downtown and seeing people and talking to them. I’m really excited to see the new performances this year. I’m looking forward to just being downtown,” she said.
According to their social media page, “The Downtown Alliance’s mission is to encourage business and retail growth in downtown Fayetteville, and to promote the success of downtown businesses.” Conceived as a signature event for the Downtown Alliance, Midsummer Magic is a unique opportunity to bring the people of Fayetteville together for a tour of the businesses downtown has to offer.
Each participating business is tasked with creating a unique theme-driven experience for potential customers so that each stop will provide something new and different.
“Even if you don’t want to do the scavenger hunt and quest, it’s still fun to go down and see everything,” McElwee explained.
“We want people to know about the businesses and shops downtown. It’s really about getting people to engage with the businesses, see how great downtown is and circulate through the area.”
The festivities begin at 11 a.m. on July 29 and 30, but there’s no official “start” time for the scavenger hunt.
Cumberland County has a cool solution for beating the heat this summer. With daily average temps hovering in the 90s and weekly heat advisories making outside fun exhausting and dangerous, parents with little ones to keep safely entertained need to look no further than their local splash pad and community pool.
With over twelve locations throughout Cumberland County, splash pads provide a fun, safe alternative for water play. It’s not uncommon to visit a splash pad and see children of all ages playing together amongst the various spouts, nozzles, sprinklers and dumping buckets. Up & Coming Weekly spoke with Nacarla Webb, Public Information Specialist for the City of Fayetteville, about the splash pad’s many advantages.
“Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation splash pads are free to everyone,” she said. “Many splash pads are located near recreation centers or schools which are visible, public sites. These locations are areas where neighbors and families can look out for each other.”
Another benefit of the popular water feature is that, unlike public pools, splash pads don’t require a lifeguard on duty and are generally much safer for children who are not yet confident swimmers, a relief to parents who may want to relax as their children have fun.
“The splash pad zero depth entry feature is welcoming because it means the play area is flat,” Webb explained. “Additionally, there may be children in the community who haven’t learned to swim or are afraid of larger bodies of water. A splash pad is a place where they can get wet and then easily step away. Also, a parent can be nearby to watch their child’s movements and join in on the fun with little hassle.” The splash pad maintains a detailed seven-day-a-week cleaning schedule, ensuring those spaces stay safe and sanitary.
Cumberland County offers four public pools and several aquatic programs to develop safe, confident swimmers for children ready to move from splashing to diving. For residents aged 12 and under, the pool costs $1, while non-residents in the same age group will pay $2. For residents 13 and up, the cost is $2, and $4 for non-residents.
Lifeguard certification courses are held throughout the year for those fifteen years of age and older. Registration for weekly swim camp is still open until July 25, with the last camp offered this summer Aug. 5. The many aquatic offerings in Cumberland County allow parents to treat their kids to some fun without breaking the bank or a sweat, and many are grateful for the convenience.
“We’ve been to a few of the splash pads and have thoroughly enjoyed them every time,” local author K.M. Rives shared with Up & Coming Weekly. “We try to go once a week if we can. Our kids love them, and it’s a great way to get them outside during the summer.”
Cumberland County splash pads are open from May 1 until Labor Day, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on the splash pad and pool locations, visit https://www.fcpr.us/facilities/aquatics.
Around 500,000 Americans use American Sign Language to communicate throughout the United States and Canada. Introduced in 1817 by Thomas Galludet, ASL is one of over 300 sign languages used worldwide. Interest in ASL has increased with additional available access to tutorials like those found on YouTube and TikTok. Additionally, ASL is often offered as a foreign language in the country's secondary and post-secondary education curricula.
Deaf visibility has also risen tremendously over the last several decades, with interpreters signing major political events, awards shows and press conferences for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, the ASL community is comparatively small, comprising only about 1% of the population, and opportunities for socialization can be difficult.
One way for both deaf and hearing people to come together for conversation or to practice conversational ASL is through Deaf Coffee Chat. With chapters all over the country, Deaf Coffee Chat is a social event where deaf people, students of ASL, or otherwise affiliated members of the deaf community meet regularly to socialize.
While these gatherings often occur in local coffee shops, they can also happen in malls, ice cream shops and generally any place serving food and drink. No matter the setting, Deaf Coffee Chats’ chief objective is to offer a safe environment for members of the deaf community to interact in their native tongue.
After a lengthy hiatus due to COVID-19 precautions, Deaf Coffee Chat Fayetteville is set to return to its regularly scheduled meetings on the first Thursday of every month beginning August 4 on the second floor of The Coffee Scene on Morganton Road from 6 to 9 p.m.
The free, family-friendly event isn’t exclusive to fluent speakers of ASL. From beginners to interpreters, the door is open to anyone interested in learning more about the language and deaf culture. Up & Coming Weekly spoke with Tabby, owner and web developer of DeafCoffee.com, a website that provides an index of social places in the United States where deaf people can “get together, chat, and enjoy!”
DeafCoffee.Com was first launched in 2003 by Grant Laird, Jr., and has since operated under one goal: to create connections across the United States for members of the Deaf Community no matter where they happen to live or where they happen to visit. The site is designed to be an easy-to-use reference and works diligently to keep meeting places up to date. In addition to the Fayetteville chapter, there are at least three active coffee chat meet ups out of North Carolina in Apex, Boiling Springs and Princeton, according to DeafCoffee.com. While socializing is at the top of the group’s agenda, Tabby sees great value in the get-togethers outside of sharing a laugh and a cup of coffee.
“Opportunities for ASL students to further practice their signing by meeting deaf people are quite valuable. They also have a chance to learn things they would not have learned in a classroom setting. Also of value is meeting people in a deaf coffee chat which could lead to friendships and even careers (such as interpreters).”
Deaf Coffee Chat is free and open to the public. While no purchases are necessary to participate, support of the coffee shop is encouraged. Coffee Scene is located at 3818 Morganton Road in Fayetteville. For more information on Deaf Coffee Chat Fayetteville, visit https://www.facebook.com/deafcoffeefayetteville.
It's a sunny Sunday morning. The streets of downtown Fayetteville are quiet at 7 a.m., and the urge to tip-toe feels appropriate so as not to wake the sleeping city.
Plush green lawns sparkle in the early morning sun, the roads are empty ahead of the Sunday morning church rush, and it's the perfect time for a run — or leisurely walk if one feels so inclined. For members of the Fayetteville Running Club, it's always a good time for a run.
A loose group of people, around 12 or so, assemble in the Airborne and Special Operation Museum's deserted parking lot, and it's hard to detect a stranger among them. The club members all squeeze in for a smiley "before" picture snapped by hostess Nichole Jenkins, and then they're off.
The group immediately falls into threesomes, pairs and singles as everyone sets their pace for the four-mile loop through a shuttered downtown. It's a motley crew as some in the group look as if they'll attack the four miles in a single bite, while others have only come to graze. The chatter is light and easy as they wind down Hay Street, around Festival Park and through gardens in riotous bloom.
There's not a whiff of competition or judgment as everyone finds their rhythm within the group, and it's easy to see the camaraderie and affection between them. Long-time members Karen Shotwell and Trina Tellames, who arrived in matching Fourth of July-inspired T-shirts, make it a point to speak to everyone; their energy is nothing short of infectious. Angela Crosby, director of operations at Cozy Corner Child Development Center and Jump Start University, who arrived with her 9-month-old granddaughter in tow, has been a member of Fayetteville Running Club for two years and smiles easily when asked about it.
"It's a great way to stay active," said the newly minted grandmother. "A friend from my gym told me about it, and I originally came just to hang out with her — now here I am." The feeling of acceptance is immediate and genuine. No one is left out or left behind, and according to Fayetteville Running Club's President, Shawn Wussow — that's the point.
"The first hurdle is signing up," he explained. "There's a fear of not fitting in, of thinking you're not a runner or that you won't be able to keep up. We have people in our club who can run a mile in 20 minutes and people who can run it in six. We try to make our meetups inclusive. We try to make them fun. It's more about community and dynamics rather than how fast you can run. We're a socially inclusive club, and we celebrate every milestone."
A member of the group since 2012, Wussow summed up the Fayetteville Running Club with one word when asked:
Fayetteville Running Club, established around 2009, is an ongoing active running club that offers weekly runs, social gatherings, training, support and accountability to the people in their community. While there is a heavy emphasis on running, Wussow wants people to know that Fayetteville Running Club is much more than just a running club.
"Fayetteville Running Club is one of the most incredibly diverse groups of people I've ever seen, and that's what drew me to it," he shared. "People think we're a pack of Olympic runners, but there's a lot they don't see —we're much more than a group of runners."
As a non-profit organization, Fayetteville Running Club dedicates its time to the betterment and support of its community in a number of ways. From monthly donations to local charities to volunteering to run with animals at local shelters, Fayetteville Running Club is an organization committed to an attitude of service.
With over 10 weekly meetups, and at least one every day, the club takes the running aspect of its reputation very seriously. With runs that suit every fitness level, lifestyle, body type and schedule, the Fayetteville Running Club is first and foremost a club for all people — not just the athletic ones.
The sign-up is the same for the first-time walker ready to get healthy or the seasoned runner with medals adorning their wall. Potential members can look up Fayetteville Running Club on its various social media platforms or register through runsignup.com. While access to meetups is free, a paid membership offers the following incentives: a free T-shirt, a discount at local running store Fleet Feet, access to a private Facebook page, nutrition and fitness advice and discounts on fun activities and races. As outlined on runsignup.com, current membership rates are $30 for the year for new members or $45 for a 12-month membership for a family of four (new membership only). Wussow, dedicated to "making membership matter," invites anyone interested to check out a meetup, introduce themselves, and get a feel for the group.
"We have a walking group twice a day. You can find a run at 5:30 in the morning or 5:30 in the evening, and two a day on the weekends. We try to fit into your schedule, so you don't have to work hard to fit us into yours."
The running club, which also partners with Cool Spring Downtown District, can be seen on the streets of downtown Fayetteville handing out flyers on 4th Friday. They also partner with Black Girls Run, Team Red White and Blue and other organizations supporting health and empowerment.
Through Fayetteville Running Club, Wussow hopes that walkers, runners and those in-between find a place to belong as they explore their personal goals.
"This club is my family," Wussow said. "I look at every single person and see them as a person I'm responsible for. I even worry about the new folks. I worry about them feeling welcome because joining something new is hard. I want everyone to have the time they think they should, and I want everyone to have a sense of accomplishment."