Entertainment

Amateur radio group holds Field Day to test readiness

11 Ron Dahle shouldered his PVC-constructed potato gun and fired yet another shot of compressed air over the limb of a tall North Carolina pine tree. His shot propelled a plastic projectile attached to a fishing line. A fishing reel mounted atop the launcher fed the line out like a well-practiced angler. The goal was to get the projectile to thread the fishing line up, over and down the other side of the limb. Reaching the right limb enabled him and his fellow radio enthusiasts to hoist antenna wire high into the tree. It was the first part of creating a loop antenna. To finish the project, the process had to be repeated at another tall nearby tree.

Dahle is president of the Cape Fear Amateur Radio Society, a 130-member-strong amateur ham radio organization in Cumberland County. The CFARS routinely steps up to help local emergency responders with radio communication services during hurricanes, blizzards or any other community crisis. When the call comes, members set up in local disaster shelters and provide communication via ham radios, while other forms of communication may have been affected by outages.

Dahle and his compatriots recently spent a hot Friday afternoon setting up antennas to prepare for the following day’s Field Day, an annual event testing the club’s ability to set up and communicate with other amateur radio organizations throughout the United States and Canada.

“This was a readiness exercise to determine the ability of CFARS to provide communication support to the community in emergency operations and disasters,” Dahle said. He emphasized this was not a contest to see how many radio contacts were made, although contacts are tracked and tabulated. “There are numerous varied contests throughout the year in different disciplines of communication where the main goal is purely a number count.”

CFARS held its annual Field Day on Saturday through Sunday, June 25 to 26, at the Hope Mills Golfview Greenway Walking Trail. The field day spans a continuous 24 hours, from 2 p.m. Saturday through 2 p.m. Sunday. The event is held under the auspices of the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio in the United States founded in 1914.
This was the first year CFARS held the event at the Hope Mills Walking Trail. In the past, CFARS’ Field Day took place at Methodist University, which also housed the group’s repeater. The previous chancellor of the University was a CFARS member.

Among ARRL’s missions is promoting and recruiting people into the amateur radio hobby. But another key job of ARRL is to protect radio frequencies used by amateur radio organizations and ensure they remain available to the public. Radio frequencies are limited, and someone always vies for Federal Communications Commission-controlled radio frequencies.

The annual readiness exercise and Field Day occur in the United States, Canada and even some worldwide locations may participate. It is held on the fourth full weekend in June. Along with testing their ability to function properly in the event of an emergency, amateur radio operators try to make voice or Morse code contact with as many other amateur radio operators as possible.

The CFARS’s setup at the Golfview Greenway site included a Morse code station, a Get-On-The-Air station, and a voice communications station. A GOTA station allows people without a radio license or newly licensed individuals to speak and connect with someone on ham radio. It gives someone a chance to experience first-hand radio communication.

The ARRL website provided 2022 Field Day locations throughout the United States for interested citizens or news media. In North Carolina alone, there were dozens of sites, including Dublin, Calabash, New Bern, Jacksonville, Robbins, Albemarle atop Morrow Mountain and in the mountains of West Jefferson, among many others.
Local radio enthusiasts established CFARS as a non-profit organization in 1976 with 31 members, according to George Davenport, current vice-president and event coordinator. Davenport joined CFARS in 2016 after getting his FCC-required license. A year later, the club asked him to help coordinate its Field Day. He’s been coordinating the event ever since.

“I became interested in amateur radio after joining a Special Forces Facebook page,” Davenport said.

The page identified friends and Special Forces colleagues who were amateur radio operators. “I did a little research and found CFARS,” he said.
Both Davenport and Dahle are retired from the military and were initially introduced to radio communications during their time as Green Berets. Davenport’s introduction to communications came when he was cross-trained on a Special Forces team. Dahle, a retired command sergeant major, says the first part of his career was dedicated to communications but lessened as he was promoted through the ranks into leadership positions.

But when Dahle was in his mid-70s, he needed an outlet for what he describes as “his creative juices.”
He joined CFARS in 2018 after getting his FCC license.

“Ham radio and Morse code was a natural path for me,” he said.
Dahle, who describes himself as process-driven and regimented, says a successful field is knowing the club performed to expected standards. He defined these standards by noting whether the equipment held up

throughout the exercise, whether the club adequately handled unforeseen issues, if any, and whether the club left the grounds in the same condition as they found it.
To Davenport, a successful field day has many faces.

“It should be a learning experience for all involved,” he said.

It needs to have a wide range of tasks and activities that encourages member participation, and the event should meet all of its operational goals.
But, since one of its other goals is to foster greater interest and participation in the hobby, Davenport believes a successful field day should be a “fun activity.”

Bragg ‘N Barn gets revamp

9 The Bragg ‘N Barn on Fort Bragg is making room to better serve the families that serve their country. The main post thrift store is currently undergoing renovations to bring positive logistical changes to the beloved second-hand shop. Conceived in large part by the Bragg ‘N Barn's manager of three months, Monica Allen, the World War II-era building will undergo a remodel that focuses on enhancing the experience of both shoppers and workers.

“The end goal is a clean, safe shopping environment for our community, as well as a good proper flow of donated and consigned items,” Allen explained to Up & Coming Weekly. “We want to ensure there's a place for everything and that the store is organized so we can increase sales and give back even more through our welfare grants and scholarships to military dependents.”

The Bragg ‘N Barn is a space nearly bursting at the seams with good intentions and is stocked full of clothing, furniture, household goods, books and toys. Still receiving donations during this time, the store is excited to implement the new plans and get more merchandise out on the floor.

“We're focused on making more floor space to accommodate more donated items,” Allen said, sharing plans for the store's renovation. “There's a lot of focus on cleanliness in the dressing rooms and the children's play area. The children love the play area, and it's a constant struggle to keep it clean and organized because they're having fun with their shopping. We want to make it safer and easier for employees to keep it clean.”

Originally a mule barn built during WWII, the Bragg ‘N Barn gets its rustic moniker from its roots. The historic brick building is a slice of the past now serving as the site of so much good. Dawn Miller, president of the Board of Directors for the Bragg ‘N Barn, feels the building's current duty as a thrift shop is more than fitting.

“It's always good to repurpose,” she said. “It's a great use of the building. By people shopping here, donating here, consigning here, volunteering and working here — it's a wonderful cycle. Our sole mission is to help the

Fort Bragg community and the greater Fayetteville area; it's the only reason we're here.”
Apart from their service as a place for families across Fort Bragg to shop for needed items at affordable prices, the Bragg ‘N Barn has fingers that reach far beyond the crowded shelves and overflowing racks in the shop.

The Bragg ‘N Barn has been a long-time employer of military spouses and dependents. The money received through in-store purchases goes toward the aforementioned welfare grants and scholarships for military high school seniors and those who wish to continue their education.

As the project progresses, there have been interruptions to daily operations, and a few more are likely to occur before August. As the workers commit to keeping up operations while keeping shut-downs to a minimum, Allen admits, it's been difficult.

“We've had a lot of obstacles, but our volunteers have been great. We're hoping to get more volunteer teams in to help.”

Miller also chimed in with the store's need for those willing to give their time and talents to help the Bragg ‘N Barn thrive.

“We need more people to come in and lend that helping hand. Volunteers have become a precious resource that is disappearing,” she stated. “It's only ‘goodness’ when you volunteer for your community.”

For those who wish to volunteer, Allen is more than happy to help log those hours into the Volunteer Management Information System for the military. Allen also invites teenagers on school break to come and lend a hand as long as they're registered with Child & Youth Services.

Additionally, the Bragg ‘N Barn is hunting for a washer and dryer for their warehouse and items to spruce up the employee breakroom.

The scheduled August grand reopening coincides with National Thrift Store Day, observed on Wednesday, Aug. 17, this year. Allen hopes to make it a full month of celebration.
The Bragg ‘N Barn is located on Ft. Bragg at 2-2412 Woodruff St.

Volunteer forms can be found in-store or through the Bragg ‘N Barn Facebook page www.facebook.com/BraggNBarnThriftShop/.

Queens ready to bring sass back to Dirtbag Ales with Drag Brunch

21bCarolina Drag Brunch is bringing the sass back to Saturdays. With live music, mimosas and plenty of laughs — it’s brunch, only fabulous.

Drag Me To Dirtbag-Draft Queens, hosted by Tatianna Matthews, will take place at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom on July 9.

Two showtimes are available for guests to enjoy the show. The 11 a.m. option includes brunch, while the 1 p.m. show will be a “brews only” event.

The taproom’s airy interior and light-filled floor-to-ceiling windows provide a perfect stage for lip-synching, posing and eye-popping looks. Guests can expect a little bit of everything and should come fully prepared to be entertained. Tap Room Manager, Michelle Bruening, expressed her delight with the show.

“Drag Brunch has been here as long as I have, and I’d never seen a drag show before I worked here. I really enjoy the energy everyone brings. Everyone is just so excited to be here. A lot of people come just to have the most fun. It’s such a welcoming environment — everyone is in a great mood.”

DJ Alan will get the party going as three charismatic queens take the stage. Ticketholders will be treated to the many talents of Amanda LaRouxx, Ebony Addams and Ravion Starr Alexandria St. James.

The interactive show runs about two hours, and every minute is packed as the ladies work to put on a show.

“I love the costumes they come out in,” Bruening admitted, “they’re just so glamorous.”

Carolina Drag Brunch brings queens from all over the state to perform at different venues throughout the Carolinas. According to their mission statement, “our goal for our events are to enjoy the company of fabulous queens and have a good time.”

Tipping is encouraged as the stunning performers sing and dance their way through the taproom. The crowd should also be prepared for some light heckling from the stage — all in good fun, of course.

No good brunch is complete with mimosas, and Dirtbag, true to its brand, has more than the standard recipe on offer.

Mimosa buckets (a whole bottle of champagne), Glittered Sangria and an enticing Dirtbag special called a Brewmosa all make for a truly unique brunching experience.

True, the family-friendly show offers exciting entertainment options for locals looking for something different, but what’s unsaid speaks louder than any DJ turntable: Dirtbag Ales is a safe space — and within its walls, you are welcome.

“I think everyone should come,” Breuning told Up & Coming Weekly. “As long as you’re comfortable, you’re invited. We include everyone here.”

To put action to sentiment, the money raised during Drag Brunch goes right back into serving the LGBTQ community, most notably displaced queer youth. The brunch’s affiliation with organizations like Free Mom Hugs ensures the inclusivity and acceptance experienced during a Drag Brunch are both felt and shared once the show is over.

Tickets for brunch and a show are $30; show-only tickets are $15. Tickets for children under 16 cost $10 for both options.

For tickets, visit www.simpletix.com/e/drag-me-to-dirtbag-draft-queens-july-drag-tickets-106806.

Lumbee Women to perform at UNC Pembroke

23Passing the older generation's stories to the next generation is the goal of the Lumbee Women, who are putting on a production of their stories at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke this month.

The play tells the story of six women, no one younger than the age of 65, and how they grew up in the close-knit Lumbee tribal community during the time of the Jim Crow South.
Each woman will tell her own story. Some are humorous, others heartbreaking — most are a mixture of both. Accompanying each tale will be music performed by a group of Lumbee musicians. The music will range from American Indian flute to gospel.

Darlene Holmes Ransom is one of the founders, producers and one of the women performing in the play. She helped create “lumBEES: Women of the Dark Water” here in Fayetteville. Ransom was inspired by the play,

“The Dames You Thought You Knew" at Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

“So after the show was over, we went backstage, and I talked to Bo Thorpe, who was the director," Ransom said. “I said, ‘I want to do this with Lumbee women.’ And she said, ‘You bring me the women, we'll do the show.’”

The six “Bees” are Roberta Bullard Brown, Dolores Jones, Jinnie Lowery, Dr. Jo Ann Chavis Lowery, Della Maynor and Ransom herself. Ransom told Up & Coming Weekly that over the five years of creating, producing and finalizing the show, the women formed a sisterhood.

“It was a very long process. A lot of hours. Thousands of hours. If the chairs and the walls and the tables could talk in Bo's home, the stories they would tell. Some of the stories were too raw to be on stage. Some of the ladies shared things they never shared before because every time, it would become a safe place to share your story, to say things and tell things about experiences that happened. Growing up brown in a Black and white world. Because our experiences were so different then, you know, than the norm.”

The play debuted at CFRT in 2019. It was sold out — something Ransom never expected.

“I get chills when I think about it. We're still in awe that somebody wants to hear our story," Ransom said. “And so after it was over, I mean, everybody loved it. There were so many demands for us to travel with it. We've been asked to go to theaters all over. Even to travel with it out West.”

However, as with most things in early 2020, everything shut down due to the pandemic. There were talks and even plans of having the production occur again last year, but then COVID-19 numbers rose, and for the safety of everyone, they canceled it.

But now, after three years, the Lumbee women will be telling their stories — this time at UNC Pembroke.
But this upcoming performance won't be the end of this group.

“So we're doing bumper stickers, we're doing a book, and we want to do a coloring book, and we want this to grow, you know, because we are seasoned. We know that we can't travel across the country and all the venues, but this needs to grow another generation. They have to tell their story,” Ransom said. “So that is our hope to start mentoring the next Lumbee Women of the Dark Water.”

The production of “lumBEES: Women of the Dark Water" will be held at the Givens Performing Arts Center. The play begins at 7:30 p.m. on July 8 and 9 and at 3 p.m. on July 10. Tickets are $20. For more information about the show or to purchase tickets, go to www.uncp.edu/gpac.

Photo-ops and family fun available at Cathis Farm’s Sunflower Days

21aIn the heart of Harnett County, just about forty-five minutes from "everywhere," fields of gold, yellow, orange and red await those looking to shoot some beautiful photos amongst the sunflowers on Cathis Farm.

The second annual Sunflower Days at Cathis Farm is a fun summer outing for the entire family, open Saturday and Sunday from July 9 to July 24.
Sunflower Days bring the vibrancy of summer, and ticket holders have access to two acres of land dotted with over twenty varieties of sunflowers.
Though most people are more than familiar with the lemon-yellow flower with a chocolate brown center, co-owner Stephanie Freas, loves to see people discover just how versatile the ubiquitous blooms can be.

"Some of these sunflowers are around 10-feet-tall and bigger than your head. There are fluffy ones and some that come in purple, orange and red. Sunflowers come in such wide varieties; it's a lot of fun to go through and discover all these flowers you just weren't expecting."

With a pivot toward events and seasonal activities in 2018, Cathis Farms teamed up with Freas, who brought her haunted attractions to the business. Their partnership proved a fertile environment for ideas, and the seed for Sunflower Days was planted.

When we first started this event, we noticed there weren't a lot of sunflowers around," Freas said. "We wanted to create a fun experience; it's really nice out here, and people are looking for outdoor activities to do.

People love sunflowers, and it's an opportunity to create great photos — it's just a fun summer event."
Single-day admission tickets grant access to the sunflower fields for as long as the visitor cares to stay. Each person gets a sunflower on the house, but they're also free to pick their own. To complete the pastoral aesthetic, they can even collect them in lovely galvanized buckets.

With a keen eye toward social media trends, Cathis knows its audience and offers Sunflower Days first and foremost as a prime destination for photographers and selfie-lovers alike. Friday, July 15 and 22, guests can access the farm in the evening to capture the beautiful sunset and some gorgeous late afternoon light.

"This is a big photography event," Freas explained. "We're sprinkling photo-ops all around the farm. There are a lot of antique bicycles, tractors and benches, just mixed in with the flowers. It's perfect for maternity shoots or engagement photos. Most people run around and take these cool selfies because it's such a great background."

Though not a totally kid-oriented event, Freas assured Up & Coming Weekly there will be plenty to do and see. The Cathis Farm concession stand will be open during Sunflower Days, and there is a hot dog cart featuring meat from the farm's own animals.

Guests can also pop in and take a look at the little market on-site stocked with local and regional goodies.

"It's a nice getaway to the country," Freas said thoughtfully. "We try to do things a little bit different here — something fun enough to bring the whole family. We try to provide a wide variety of things to do throughout the year."

Tickets are $15 for ages 11 and up and $10 for ages 3 to 10. To purchase tickets, visit https://cathisfarm.ticketspice.com/sunflower-days-2022.
Cathis Farm is located at 544 Falcon Road in Lillington.

 

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