Tour the entire world in a weekend at the International Folk Festival

The Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County will host the 41st International Folk Festival Sept. 28 and 29. IFF packs an amazing amount of diversity into the two-day festival.

The longest running festival in the region gives the Arts Council an opportunity to introduce Fayetteville to the unique variety of original artistic traditions from dozens of diverse cultures. Fort Bragg brings many people to our community from all over the world so many of these cultures are represented in the Fayetteville community.

The festival kicks off Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with the Parade of Nations on Hay Street. Experience the distinct and vibrant cultures of more than 30 nations as representatives parade down Hay Street wearing their native dress.

Following the parade, head to Festival Park and take in seven unique cultural performance areas with craft and food vendors. Enjoy authentic cuisine, live performances, arts, crafts and vendors from around the world.

Saturday night’s festivities include Rocksplosion! — the ultimate rock star tribute show. It is one band with four distinct performances, representing Madonna, Tina Turner, Bon Jovi and Jimmy Buffet.

Sunday’s events begin at 1 p.m. with Praise in the Park, a performance of 10 praise and worship dance groups and 10 faith-based choirs. It concludes with the 6 p.m. performance of gospel sensation, Yael Hilton. Hilton, a Fayetteville native, has a powerful voice reminiscent of Nina Simone.

In addition to the cultural performances, the schedule includes live demonstrations from area artist, mimes, aerialists, drum circles, performance art, belly dancers, storytelling, fiddle players, magicians, balloon artists, painters, fire dancers and traditional American blues performances.

This year, the Art Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County has teamed up with the Grandstand App to provide attendees with the best festival experience. Download the app through your app store to find maps of the performance areas, lists of vendors and show times. The app lets you share information through your social media accounts, add to your list of events and add events to your personal calendar so you don’t miss a single thing. It’s available for iPhones at  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/grandstand-events/id1196052305 and for Android devices at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.grandstand.grandstandfa. For more information about the International Folk Festival visit http://www.theinternationalfolkfestival.com

Fayetteville Dinner Theatre returns with ‘HamLIT’

13 01 HamLITFayetteville is a unique place, so when Up & Coming Weekly Publisher Bill Bowman decided to resurrect the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre after a more than 35-year hiatus, he knew it would have to be something special.  And is it ever. Each event includes much more than dinner and a show. From music to prizes, games, a meet-and-greet reception and much more, the FDT offers an experience like none other in the area — and all for the benefit of area theatergoers and Cumberland County education. FDT supports the Kidsville News Literacy and Education Foundation, a 501c3 that provides reading and educational resources to local children and teachers. The second show of the 2019-2020 season, “HamLIT,” runs Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28.
“Our local residents shouldn’t have to drive to Greensboro or Raleigh for good dinner theater entertainment,” said Bowman. “That’s why we’ve gone out of our way to make this a very special and unique experience people will want to
come back to  time and time again.”
To accomplish this, Bowman has partnered up with some of the community’s most prestigious businesses and organizations to bring this production to fruition. Sponsored by Worldwide Wellness LLC and Up & Coming Weekly and hosted by Gates Four Country Club,  “HamLIT”  is performed by local theater troupe Sweet Tea Shakespeare.
13 02 DSC 8534 “HamLIT” is Shakespeare with a twist and brings great theater, hijinks, games and more to theater audiences. It’s definitely Shakespeare but with a few hearty toasts, period games, improv, lively music and lots and lots of humor thrown in for good measure. Bowman described it as “bold and irreverent with notes of tragedy balanced only by uproarious hilarity for adult audiences.”
“Expect a little craziness and a lot of fun,” said Nathan Pearce, one of the show’s three directors. “We take it down to the bare bones of the plot and fill it with improv and games. … We really like to have audience interaction. We want the audience to feel like they are part of the story, that they aren’t just watching it. We want them to join in the fun. We want them to sing along — we will do songs everyone knows. It is like a big party.”
Taj Allen is also on board as codirector and Hamlet, with codirector Traycie Zapata also playing the part of Gertrude. Pearce fills several roles, including codirector, Claudius and The Ghost. Brandon Bryan is Polonius, Nelson Soliva plays Horatio as well as a musician, and Jacqueline Nunweiler plays Laertes as her first role in an STS production. Mary Gainer Mariyampillai plays Ophelia for her STS debut, and Dean Dibling has the role of musician.
Ed Wiens, owner of Worldwide Wellness LLC,  is proud to support the endeavor. “Friends and acquaintances throughout history have found common ground in theater entertainment,” said 13 03Wiens. “Though times and technology have certainly changed, the gathering of community members around the ‘watering hole’ of good theatrical entertainment is an enduring part of the human experience. (My wife) Rebekah and I are pleased to enhance that experience for our fellow Fayettevillians. … Though our business is global, we live in Fayetteville and want to do all we can to enrich the lives of people in our community.”
The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre experience includes a preshow reception with hors d’oeuvres; a full-service cash bar and wine tasting, a duel entrée dinner with two sides, a salad and rolls; and coffee, tea and specialty desserts at intermission.
The 2019-2020 season opened May 31 with “’M’ is for Mullet, ” a whodunit written and directed by Elaine Alexander and featuring  The Hot Mess players with special guest KasCie Page.
“It went quite well,” Gates Four general manager Kevin Lavertu said of the first production of the year. “It was very interactive. Members and guests took part in it, and there was a tremendous amount of positive feedback, which is why we are excited to continue hosting the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre.”
Gates Four Golf and Country Club
13 04 HamlitBuilt in 1968 and owned by the same family since 1974, Gates Four is a residential and golfing community beautifully located between Hope Mills and Fayetteville. It hosts a challenging 18-hole championship golf course that includes both new bent-grass greens and renovated bunkers. It features a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse, a first-class restaurant, two USTA tennis courts, an outdoor pavilion, a 10-acre park with walking and fitness trails and an Olympic-sized pool. 
“As we continue to grow, we are always looking for opportunities to provide high-quality events and entertainment options to residents, members and their guests,” said Lavertu. “We are glad to be a part of the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre and look forward to our partnership in 2020 and beyond.”
Sweet Tea Shakespeare Company
Inspired by Shakespeare and the early modern spirit, Sweet Tea Shakespeare serves up accessible, imaginative and magical theater along with music, familiarity and fellowship. Unlike other local theaters, STS does not have a permanent venue or building to perform in — and they kind of like it that way.
“Half of our season takes place outdoors,” said STS general manager Jennifer Pommerenke. “We also try to make our shows more of a party. … We play live music before every show. It’s basically like a backyard barbecue where a play breaks out. We try to really connect with our audiences and bring them into the show, make them a ‘character’ almost.” 
Dinner parties lean toward friends and family coming together to have a good time, a fun time, a memorable time, making STS a perfect pairing for the FDT. “You have the music in the background, the food and beverages, and you simply enjoy being in the same place together,” said Pommerenke. “I believe our shows create that atmosphere. Our shows are beautiful and fun to watch. We try incredibly hard to make these beautiful classic stories authentic and relevant and delightful.”
“With an awesome show, talented actors, a reception, a great dinner, door prizes and entertainment — all culminating with a post-show meet-and-greet — we strive to provide a very unique dinner theatre experience” said Bowman. “It’s all about providing local theater audiences what they pay for — awesome entertainment at a great value.”
Tickets range from $75/$85 per person with special discounts for Seniors 65+ and active-duty military. Group discounts are also available. To learn more about the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre, make reservations or check show dates and times visit www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com, all social media formats or call 910-391-3859.
“HamIT” offers games, songs, great theater and more.
Photo Credit: Ben Walton

Rivermist rocks Fayetteville After Five

11 RivermistMusic and food trucks? Yes, please. Especially after a long week of adulting. Get your planners out now and mark Sept. 20 as a night out — either with friends and family or just by yourself. The Dogwood Festival’s Fayetteville After Five is the perfect place to spend a Friday night, being entertained while eating some great-tasting food truck fare. Gates open at 5 p.m., and food trucks will begin serving food at 5:30 p.m. The opening band, Throwback Collaboration Band, begins playing at 6 p.m.

Local favorite, Rivermist, is the headliner for the show. Up & Coming Weekly had the opportunity to chat with Greg Adair, drummer and back-up vocals for the band, and he shared what being a part of the Dogwood Festival Fayetteville After Five event means to the band.
UCW: Is this your first time being the headliner for Fayetteville After Five?
GA: Yes. No local band has ever headlined. According to Dogwood’s Curtis Jordan, it was due to our success fronting bands there the last couple of years and a large following of 3,700 people.
UCW: What’s your favorite thing about performing in Fayetteville? 
GA: The Festival Park Stage is a huge platform. All of our friends, and even families, can see us locally — and on the greatest stage Fayetteville offers.
UCW: What’s the schedule of the performance for the evening?
GA: The band playing ahead of us, Throwback Collaboration Band, is an R&B band from Fort Bragg. They played at the Dogwood Festival in the spring. They will start the evening off at 6 p.m. and play until 7:30 p.m. We will take the
stage around 7:45 p.m. and play until around 10:15 p.m.
UCW: What is it about Fayetteville that keeps you and the band here?
GA: All of us, but one, are from the Fayetteville area. Cliff Bender, the guitar player, was from Ohio but has been here more than 20 years. Allen Pier, the singer-keyboard player, and I graduated from Cape Fear High School. Doug Bass, also a singer-keyboard player, graduated from South View. Bassist Tony Harrison graduated from Pine Forest and then University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a music major and owns Cape Fear Music downtown.

Plus, we are all family men. Our wives and families are friends. They go with us on as many trips as possible. We are huge advocates of our military and first responders and tend to sing the National Anthem in many of our shows, acapella. We love to sing harmonies as a hobby.

We are in partnership with Healy Wholesale, 96.5BobFM and with Boose Law Offices. We will have almost 70 shows — mostly festivals and After 5-type events — across three states by the time 2019 ends.

I do the booking and contracts and am a full-time musician. We are booked through three agencies as well. We are always thankful for what we’re blessed with and are very receptive to fans everywhere. As far as genre, we play everything from Eagles and Journey to Earth Wind & Fire and Bruno Mars.

Check our updated schedule at “http://www.rivermistband.com/tour-dates”  www.rivermistband.com/tour-dates.

Call 910-323-1934 to find out more about Fayetteville After 5.

Gilbert Theater presents ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’

12 Charlie BrownThe Peanuts characters come to life in Clark Gesner’s adaptation of Charles M. Schultz’s classic comic strip in the musical, “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Audiences will enjoy the regular Peanuts storyline with the ever-bossy Lucy, who is still trying to get Schroeder’s attention regardless of whether or not he notices her. Then there’s Sally who’s still picking on her crush, Linus, who of course doesn’t go anywhere without his blanket. And finally, there’s Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Snoopy still has his doghouse and still lives out his dream of being the Red Baron, and Charlie Brown is, well, his lovable self. And they will all be at Gilbert Theater Sept. 20-Oct.6. 

The role of Sally Brown is played by Caryn Festa. When asked why she wanted to audition, she said, “I haven’t been on the stage since high school, and I love performing.” She was ecstatic to learn she got the role of Sally. She is grateful for the support of her family and hopes everyone that comes to the show thoroughly enjoys it!
The role of Linus is played by Quentin King. King has played in multiple performances at the Gilbert. Being in this musical reminds him of his childhood and how he used to watch the cartoons and read the comics. It’s definitely nostalgic. He thanks his family for their never-ending love and support.
Lucy is played by Jennifer Czechowski. Jennifer has been a part of Gilbert productions in the past, and with the encouragement of her mom, husband and best friend, she decided to audition for this musical. It’s family friendly and fun.

Gage Long plays the Schroeder. Long is thrilled to be in this production because it’s fun and the cast is great. He’s excited to bring the character of Schroeder to life.

LeeAnn Valcarcel plays Snoopy. Valcarcel said this has been her favorite show for a long time. It was the first musical she put on at Fayetteville Academy, where she is the choir director. “This show has a bright spot, and I hope the audience experiences that when they watch it,” she said.
Valcarcel is grateful for the support she receives from her family and friends, especially her children.
Dan Follett is Charlie Brown. Follett is a freshman at Fayetteville State University and has been a fan of this show for as long as he can remember. He feels he is growing as a performer, and he loves his fellow cast members, plus the amazing directing team. He wants the audience to know that this show has a wonderful message about happiness. “That even when life is particularly hard, you can find happiness in the simple things that surround you,” Follett said.

The production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” runs Sept. 20-Oct. 6. Ticket prices range from $14 to $16, or $10 with groups of 10 or more. Visit www.gilberttheater.com for tickets and information.

Vision Resource Center hosts ‘Out of Sight’ night at the park

10 Vision Resource CenterThe Vision Resource Center, Cape Fear Eye Associates and Systel present the Seventh Annual “Out of Sight” Night at the Park, Saturday, Sept. 21, from 6-10 p.m. at Segra Stadium on the VIP deck.

“The purpose of the event this year is to help us reach our birth-to-13-years-of-age population of kids,” said Terri Thomas, executive director of The Vision Resource Center. “The state does not take on kids until they are 14 years of age, so this money will be going toward building that program.”
Thomas added they want to be able to work more with the families and equip them with the tools they need so that, as their kid gets older, they will be able to handle life’s stresses and be there for them without the fears and lack of knowledge that many of the parents have.
The event will have heavy hors d’oeuvres. The dress code is cocktail attire. Kelvin “The Greek” Culbreth will be the master of ceremonies for the event. The Guy Unger Band will provide entertainment. Quince Lanford, known as DJ “Q,” will be the DJ for the evening.
“We are going to have a few vendors on-site,” said Thomas. “We will have Quintex Low Vision and Visual Eyez Future Technology. They will be there showing different low vision aids for people to try on to see what it is like to have visual impairments.
“Hollywood Java will be there for coffee tasting. We are going to have people put on blindfolds and taste different coffees,” said Thomas. “We will have them pick their favorite coffees based on taste and smell.”
She added that there will be a variety of experiences at the event. “We will have blindfolds out there, but we will have simulation glasses, too. So guests can experience different simulations of what it is like to have diabetic retinopathy and other types of eye diseases.
They will simulate different vision-related disease in the glasses. “You won’t be completely blind,” said Thomas. “It will show and educate people that just because you say you have a visual impairment does not mean that you are black blind, or completely blind.”
Participants will have an opportunity to play the “Game of Chance” at the event. Some of the prizes include N.C. State/Carolina game tickets, spa packages, a trip to Vegas, family fun nights, cruises and more.
“With the Game of Chance Raffle, you will purchase tickets that are $10 apiece,” said Thomas. “We are going to start with the lowest valued prize, and all during the night, we will pull raffle tickets. As that raffle item is called, we will go to the next one, and you will have a few minutes  to purchase your $10 ticket for the next item that is up for grabs.”
The goal is to raise $30,000 for the whole event and $10,000 the night of the event.
“My main goal is to teach individuals what visual impairment is not and that it doesn’t mean you are completely blind,” said Thomas. “We want people to walk away with a better awareness of what it is like to be visually impaired.”        
“Systel is going to allow us to use their back parking lot for the event,” said Thomas. “We will  provide a courtesy shuttle service from the parking lot to the event. The event this year is not going to be a formal sit-down affair like before. It will be low-key. There will be a lot of mingling and people learning more about the Vision Resource Center.”
Tickets cost $75. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 910-483-2719 or visit www.visionresourcecentercc.org.

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