Toast of the Town returns

18 Each year, with the exception of 2020, the CARE Clinic hosts Toast of the Town at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. May 5 will mark the twenty-second Toast of the Town. This fundraiser is vital to The CARE Clinic, which offers health care to support local individuals who have no insurance and are in a low-income bracket. The clinic does not receive any government funding and is run solely through donations, grants and fundraising. Monthly costs to keep the organization running are approximately $55,000. The CARE Clinic has seen a marked increase in the need for the type of services they provides since the start of the pandemic.

The CARE Clinic is hoping the community will show up in numbers to support their vital mission.

“We are expecting between 300 to 400 attendees,” explained Tara Martin, CARE Clinic development and marketing director.

Martin is new to the organization and is particularly excited about the chance to interface with the local community.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to meet and talk with our supporters and sponsors face-to-face. Since I just started working with the clinic in November, this is my first major in-person event as development director. I will get to finally put faces to the names I have been learning over the past six months,” Martin said.

Held at the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens, Toast of the Town will begin at 6 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. Attendees will enjoy a night out in the gardens with hors d’ oeuvres and desserts from Two Brothers Catering to snack on. Wines, beers, ales, spirits and hand-rolled cigars from Anstead’s will also be available.

The event is being supported by and features a selection of local small businesses.

“Wine will be provided by Johnson Brothers Mutual Distributing and served by Leclair’s General Store. Our breweries will include Bright Light Brewing Company, Mash House Brewing and Dirtbag Ales. The Spirits will be provided by Cape Fear Distillery. Lastly, the cigars will be provided by Anstead’s Tobacco Company,” Martin told Up & Coming Weekly.

The CARE Clinic will run a virtual Silent Auction featuring priceless baskets donated by businesses from all around North Carolina and there will be travel experiences to the castles of Ireland, the Greek Islands, Costa Rica and more. In addition to the silent auction, event organizers will be running a 50/50 raffle.

“The winner of the drawing will walk away with half of the money raised from raffle ticket sales. We have already begun selling tickets as a lead-up to the event. The pot is currently up to $1600 — that means whoever wins that night is guaranteed to receive at least $800,” Martin said on April 29.

Tickets are available for $100 until Wednesday, May 4 at 5 p.m. After that time, tickets will be $125. For more information, visit www.toastofthetownfay.com or call the clinic at 910-485-0555.

Drinking and tobacco are not all that is offered; there is something for everyone.

“This event will be so much fun. If someone is on the fence about coming, I invite you to still come on out for a night of socializing. Even for those who do not drink, there is still a lot for this event to offer,” Martin said.


Hope Mills, Gates Four team up for Cinco de Mayo charity golf

17 Nothing says “summer is on the way,” quite like Cinco De Mayo.

The festive holiday is an excellent opportunity to gather with friends, eat good food and play a few rounds of charity golf if the Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce has anything to say about it.
On May 5, at Gates Four Golf and Country Club, the Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce will host
its Annual Cinco De Mayo GolfTournament.

A long-standing event within the community, the golf tournament is a popular fundraising opportunity for the people of Hope Mills and surrounding areas.

“The objective of this event is multi-purpose,” says Lisa Bastic-Penardo, treasurer, Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The tournament raises funds for the Chamber of Commerce and a local non-profit. This year we’ve partnered with United Way, so a portion of the proceeds will support that organization and its various projects.”

The Golf Tournament Committee made up of Connie Rushing, Nolan Clark, Brenda Seay and Bastic-Penardo, has been busy planning the event since last September, working hard to get everything just right.

“We wanted to continue the tradition of the golf tournament,” Bastic-Penardo said. “Our Chamber is blessed to have such like-minded people working together to make everything a success. It’s a lot of work, but it’s always worth it in the end.”

“The tournament has been going on around twenty years — It’s been around here a lot longer than me,” she said.

As the town of Hope Mills prepares to celebrate its 130th anniversary and the chamber its 30th, the tournament is one of the community’s oldest and most memorable events.

Just right for Cinco De Mayo, this year’s theme is Tacos & Margaritas and evokes the sense of fun Bastic-Penardo hopes everyone will take away from the event.

Participants can sign up as a team of four or as individuals with a cost of $100 per player.

Registration for the tournament begins at noon with a shotgun starting at 1 p.m. Awards and dinner will be served at 6 p.m.
Those participating will enjoy 18 holes of golf, a four-person captain’s choice format and unlimited range balls before the tournament begins.
Additionally, the admission cost covers a cart, green fee, boxed lunch and a taco & margarita dinner buffet.

The tournament will also feature several contests to heighten the sense of fun. Awards for first and worst, closest to the pin and longest drive are all up for grabs for those daring to show off their golf skills.

For those lacking in the aforementioned golf skills, there’s no need to worry — all skill levels are welcome.

“Everybody is invited to come,” says Bastic-Penardo. “It will be a great day for anyone who wants to have a good time, relax with other like-minded people, and enjoy a little family-friendly competition.”
Gates Four Golf and Country Club is located at 6775 Irongate Drive in Fayetteville.
For more information about the tournament, visit the event website at www.visitfayettevillenc.com/event/cinco-de-mayo-charity-golf-tournament/17588/.

Fitness industry proving to be a lucrative business around the world

11 Daily we are inundated with a barrage of advertisements that target how we look and ways to look better. The fitness industry reaches into our wallets frequently with ads for weight loss, gyms, equipment, dieting, supplements, clothing and tech-related items. It is a billion-dollar industry. One of the primary reasons people join a fitness center is to tone up, lose weight, build muscle and improve health and well-being.

Fitness centers are not the only resources the consumer seeks for health and well-being; companies promote well-being and diversified products directed toward the consumer. Did you know that rapid weight loss commercials are at least 57% of media advertisements? In some cases, weight-loss ads claim that you can lose eight to ten pounds per week with their products.

The diet industry takes in about sixty billion dollars per year, and the sad part is the failure rate averages about 90% for participants. The reason is that there is no long-term sustainability. Minerals, botanicals, vitamins and supplements are another huge industry with average spending of thirty-five billion. Millennials spend significant money each year on vitamins and supplements, including protein shakes and vitamins, averaging $56 to $80 per month.

It is not uncommon to see ads targeting the miraculous results of taking vitamins and supplements. As of 2022, there are over a hundred thousand fitness and health clubs in the U.S. Before the pandemic, more than sixty-two million people visited health clubs with an average attendance of 108 days per year. Twenty-four-hour fitness is the largest privately held chain in the U.S., with more than 400 clubs. The most expensive gym in the U.S. is EXOS, costing thirty thousand dollars per year, located in Phoenix, Arizona.

The average cost of a gym membership is $58, $78 for higher-end gyms, but it can vary depending on the size of a city. Budget-friendly gyms include Planet Fitness, Golds Gym and L.A. Fitness.

Before joining a gym, one of the top considerations is location, followed by equipment, value, cleanliness, amenities, group fitness classes and atmosphere. The online virtual fitness industry is a rising star due to the pandemic. The availability of apps and smart devices for home workouts and mobility are skyrocketing the market to an expected 79 billion dollars by 2026.

A mounting 14.5 billion dollars was spent on exercise equipment in 2020, with aerobic and exercise equipment being popular items for the home offering cardio and resistance training. Today’s home gym comprises more than dumbbells and a pull-up bar with the convenience of working out safely at home.

Popular items such as the Nordic Trac, Peloton Bike, vertical climbers, smart home gyms and Mirror Pro have found their way into homes. Technology also prevails with home exercise equipment, apps, smartwatches and tracking devices to monitor our exercise progress.

Finally, the apparel industry, which includes shoes and clothing, generated 167 billion in sales in 2018 and is expected to reach a global market of 248 billion by 2026. The amount of revenue that the fitness industry takes in is mind-boggling, and now I can see why so much advertising targets this market. As a final footnote, North Carolina ranks 30 in the U.S., with 76.9% of residents who exercise.

The number one state is Colorado, with 83.8%. The U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom have the highest number of fitness club memberships.

Community Concerts presents the Oak Ridge Boys

15 The Crown Theatre will present its 84th season of Community Concerts featuring the Oak Ridge Boys Friday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m.

In a musical career that has spanned over three decades, the quartet has broken the mold for classic country music. The band members are William Lee Golden, baritone; Richard Sterban, bass; Joe Bonsall, tenor; and Duane Allen, lead vocals.

Their music is universal, and they are currently in overdrive touring for their 150-day-long “Front Porch Singin’ Tour.”

“At the concert, there are some things that are very obvious, and you are going to hear me sing ‘Giddy up omm poppa mow mow’ because that song is the law,” said Richard Sterban.

“It is quite an interesting story how the song “Elvira” came about,” he said.

Last year was the 40th anniversary of their signature song, “Elvira,” and the band is celebrating it. A gentleman named Dallas Frazier wrote the song. Several years ago, Frazier was driving home from a recording session in East Nashville, and he saw a street sign that said Elvira Street.

He pulled up to the street sign and wrote on a piece of paper, “Elvira, Elvira, my heart is on fire for Elvira.”

Then he wrote the “Giddy up omm poppa mow mow” part because that imitated the bumps on the road, the potholes on Elvira Street. When he got home, he finished the song and wrote the verses about a woman so that the music would make more sense, but the song’s original inspiration came from a street sign in East Nashville.

“I’ve talked to a lot of songwriters, and they have told me that you never know where the inspiration to write a song is going to come from,” Sterban said. “So that is the story about the song that most people do not know.”

Some of their chart-topping hits are “Elvira,” “Thank God for Kids,” “Just A Little Talk With Jesus,” “Come On In,” “Bobbie Sue” and these hits propelled them to sell over 41 million albums, have over 30 top ten hits and more than a dozen national number one singles.

“We will perform a lot of our hits, and our most requested song is “Thank God for Kids,” Sterban said. “William Lee Golden, the guy with the long beard in our group, does a good job of interpreting those lyrics and communicating it to the audience.”

The group can glide across musical genres as they have recorded both country and gospel hits.

“We make our living singing country music, but we all grew up singing gospel music, and we love it,” Sterban said. “We are also excited about our latest album, ‘The Oak Ridge Boys Front Porch Singin’ and it is very inspirational music, and a lot of it is gospel, but there are some new country songs on it.”

He added, “All of the songs are very meaningful, and it really is the kind of music that we need to hear right now with all of the things that are going on in the world today.”
Oak Ridge Boys recorded their latest album in a very informal manner. The group walked into the recording studio in Nashville, and their producer, Dave Cobb, asked the question, “Fellas, if you guys were on the bus and you were getting ready for a show, what would you sing?”

The lead singer, Allen, immediately began singing an old spiritual called “Swing Down Chariot.”
The other members joined in and started harmonizing with him. This is a song they have known for years and had never recorded.

“Dave told us to get to the microphones immediately to record the song,” Sterban said. “We sang the song, and we were probably in the studio for less than an hour, and it was a done deal.”
Sterban added, “I think this is a great example of how this album was recorded in an unstructured setting of four guys harmonizing together.”

Their hardcore fans affectionately call them “The Oaks,” and over the years, they have become known for their Christmas music. “We have eight Christmas albums, and for over 30 years, we have done a great Christmas tour on the road, and it is the biggest part of our year,” Sterban said. “We do our Christmas Show every night from Thanksgiving up until Christmas Eve night except Tuesdays, and it is a great family show.”

Their musical awards include the Country Music Hall of Fame, Gospel Music Hall of Fame, five Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, four Academy of Country Music Awards, four Country Music Association Awards, 11 Dove Awards, five Billboard Awards, eight Cashbox Awards, they are members of the Grand Ole Opry and many more.
Sterban has been in the music industry for decades and has some valuable advice for young aspiring bands.

“This is a very competitive business, and a lot of young acts try to make it, and only a handful really do make it,” he said. “My advice is to decide what you want to do, work on your craft, sing every chance that you get, strive to become the best performer that you can possibly become and never slough off because you never know who will be listening.”

With so many accolades and accomplishments under their belt, the Oak Ridge Boys have no plans on retiring anytime soon.

“For the next few years at least, we are going to keep doing what we love doing, and that’s recording, traveling and taking our music live to our fans,” Sterban said. “Come out and join us for a night of good music and family entertainment because we are so happy to be back on stage working again.”

For ticket information, visit www.capefeartix.com.

Fort Bragg Fair returns after hiatus

9 The Fort Bragg Fair will return to the area on Wednesday, April 27. It will be the first time the event has been held since 2019. The fair, a long-running staple for the Fort Bragg community, had been put on hold for two years due to Covid restrictions. However, the fair is back this year and looks to welcome upwards of 30,000 people throughout the event.

“We get a good crowd, and it’s a great event because it’s open to not just Fort Bragg but the surrounding communities that we try to be involved with,” said Jennifer Fayson, special events coordinator, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

This year’s fair boasts 28 rides, including the Zipper, a Ferris Wheel, and special rides for younger children. Twenty-five vendors and concession stands will be on hand with fares such as funnel cakes, fried Oreos and loaded french fries.

“Our entire office is most excited about the fair food; we are looking forward to our funnel cakes around here,” Fayson said.

The fair will run from April 27 to May 8 at the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds on Bragg Boulevard. Gates open at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission to the fair costs $16 for the general public and $14 for military and DoD civilians, Monday through Friday. The fair costs $21 for the general public and $19 for military and DoD civilians on Saturdays and Sundays. Children under 36 inches are free.

Admission includes all rides and entertainment throughout the event, although concessions are an additional fee. Mothers will be able to attend the fair for free on Mother’s Day, May 8. Mothers must be accompanied by
a child 17 years old or younger to receive the discount. Civilians coming to the fair can park along Bragg Blvd, heading toward Stryker Golf Course. DoD cardholders will be asked to park along Watson Street on Fort Bragg. Parking is free.

“We do encourage that if you have a DoD ID card, come park on base because parking on Bragg Blvd. will be limited,” Fayson said. “Fort Bragg, in general, is really excited about the fair because this is our chance to get back to that word, normalcy. With the covid restrictions lessened, we are able to [hold the fair],” said Sharilyn Wells, media relations, Fort Bragg Public Affairs Office.

No outside food or beverages are allowed at the fair. For more information and a list of prohibited items, visit https:// bragg.armymwr.com/calendar/ event/23406.

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