Fayetteville After Five is back with music, food and family fun

19 Free live music, food trucks and southern summer nights come together every second Friday evening of the month for a concert series starting on June 10.
From 6 to 10 p.m., Fayetteville After Five, held at Festival Park in downtown, will open its gates to couples looking for a fun night out or families looking to beat the summer doldrums.
While outside food and drink, canopies and coolers are not permitted on-site — camping chairs, blankets and service animals are more than welcome as attendees experience an evening of good vibes, good food and good music.

A summer staple for the last decade, Fayetteville After Five has the successful summer bash down to a science. Park gates will open at 5 p.m., followed by an opening act at 6.
For those coming to rock, the live music offering will not disappoint. Fayetteville After Five will feature a range of tribute and cover bands. From the Eagles to Led Zeppelin, there’s a little something for everyone.

Opening acts taking the stage this summer include Southern Haze, Throwback Collaboration Band and 10 O’Clock High.

A rotation of five to seven food trucks will be on-site with plenty of options, including dessert and several types of beer.
At 8 p.m., the night’s headlining act will grace the stage, and the lineup this year features crowd favorites such as On the Border, Rivermist and Zoso.

As an extension of the Dogwood Festival, Fayetteville After Five offers those still crowd-shy after the precautions of the past two years an opportunity to get out and have a good time. Sarahgrace Snipes, executive director of the Dogwood Festival, sees it as a great way for people to reengage without battling the overwhelming crowds often present at other events.

“It’s a bit more relaxing,” she told Up & Coming Weekly. “This is a great event to not be right on top of people. We’ll have lawn games; kids can run around, people can interact with each other and enjoy live music without a huge crowd.”

While Fayetteville After Five will have a lot to offer those looking for something free, fun and local to add to their summer plans, Snipes is most excited to share good live music with the public.

“I am most excited about On the Border,” Snipes admitted. “It is the ultimate Eagles tribute band, and people love them. They usually bring in the largest audience, and it’s very fulfilling to see the park full, people having fun and seeing the happiness our events bring to the community.”

The concert series will take place over three dates throughout the summer: June 10, July 15 and August 12.

“I hope to hear that everyone had a wonderful time,” Snipes said. “And I hope to hear that they’re coming out to the next event, and they’re excited for the Dogwood Festival in October.”
Festival Park is located at 335 Ray Ave. in Fayetteville.

For more information regarding vendor and music lineup, visit the event website at www.thedogwoodfestival.com/fayetteville-after-five.


Much Ado about Shakespeare

17 Sweet Tea Shakespeare will take audiences all the way back to "the rom-com that started it all" with their production of "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare. This comedy, directed by Sweet Tea Shakespeare's Artistic Director Jeremy Fiebig, will open Friday, June 3, and run through June 26. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, with a live music preshow at 6:45 p.m.

Written around 1598, "Much Ado About Nothing" focuses on the romantic exploits of two couples in the idyllic Italian countryside. Beatrice and Benedick are cynical individuals more interested in exchanging witty repartee than vows of love. A second romance in the story follows the maiden, Hero, and brave soldier, Claudio. A colorful cast of characters both aid and usurp the four would-be lovers, and hilarity ensues.

"I think this play is just wildly entertaining," said Jen Pommerenke, managing director for Sweet Tea Shakespeare. "It lends itself to any age group, and it's an accessible Shakespeare comedy. It's funny, witty and just a great storyline."

The play will receive a few updates — moving to the "Bridgerton" esque Empire period with some infusions of modern music. The source material has been cut down to fit a run time of around two hours. However, it's still "all Shakespeare," Fiebig assured Up & Coming Weekly.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare brings The Bard and the magic of his stories to old fans and newcomers alike. Over 500 years after changing the way humans engage with story craft, Sweet Tea Shakespeare believes Shakespeare is still extremely relevant today.

"I think Shakespeare gets humans," explained Pommerenke. "He understands our tenacious spirit and our desire for love. You can take Shakespeare and drop the story just about anywhere. We've seen Shakespeare take place in Georgia, seen it in army fatigues, and I'm sure there's one with robots," she joked. "There's a Shakespeare for everyone."

"We are all Shakespeare in a sense," said Fiebig, adding to the sentiment. "So much of [his] writing has become, over time, how we see and experience the world — how we laugh, how we fall in love, even how we think. Shakespeare has a really robust way of sticking with us — I think because there's such a depth to the ideas in the plays."
While some may be intimidated by the idea of Shakespeare and the language of the play, Fiebig feels confident no one in the audience will be left behind.

"At Sweet Tea Shakespeare, we work to make the Shakespeare as accessible as possible, and audiences will be able to follow along. We provide them some extra help on-site, too."
Pommerenke suggested the pay-off is worth it. "I think it's really good for people to be challenged by stories. You do have to pay attention to a Shakespeare play; you have to engage the head and heart; you can't go in and zone out — and it just sounds so lovely on the ears."
Sweet Tea Shakespeare strives to create a holistic experience for its audience that speaks to the mind and the celebratory spirit of theater.

"The main difference at Sweet Tea Shakespeare is that the play is part of a larger event," said Fiebig. "We have a preshow with music and other fun entertainment, beer, wine and a specialty cocktail just for the show. Our productions fold in modern music. We like to think of our work as a party where a play breaks out."
The company travels with its own playhouse set-up, and the play will be performed outdoors when weather permits. Attendees are encouraged to bring camping chairs, quilts or blankets to spread on the ground. Light fare will be for sale from local vendors.

General admission tickets are $22 in advance, and day-of tickets will cost $30. Tickets can be purchased on the website, https://sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets/, by calling 910-420-4383 or email tickets@sweetteashakespeare.com.

Information regarding performance locations can be found at https://sweetteashakespeare.com/much-ado-sweet-tea-shakespeare-rom-com/.

Smoothies can be nutritious treats with lots of possibilities

17I love smoothies in the summer, and I often make them with what I have picked from the garden or what I have in the refrigerator.
Smoothies are popular because they are versatile, nutritious, portable and delicious. They often become a morning meal, afternoon snack and a great way to make a healthy meal.

Fitness centers are carving out specialty smoothie areas and availability in grocery stores, cafes and restaurants are on the rise.
Smoothies are thick and creamy beverages blended with fruit, fruit juice, coconut water, almond milk, vegetables, yogurt, seeds, nuts or dairy products. They are often blended with frozen fruit or ice, giving the consistency of a milkshake.

Homemade smoothies can be a combo of fruit such as berries, bananas, peaches, mango, pineapple, strawberries and blueberries.

Vegetables may include spinach, avocado, cucumbers and carrots. Nuts and seeds are popular additions and may include peanut butter, almond butter, chia seeds, pecans and almonds.

Many extras can consist of herbs, spices, protein powder and powdered vitamins — the addition of nontraditional sweeteners may be maple syrup, raw sugar, sorbet and honey.

Proteins are another requested addition and are often paired with yogurt and vegetables. Smoothies can be a great way to increase your fiber intake, including nuts, vegetables, and whole grains.

A smoothie can be beneficial for health reasons, but it can also have a downside with ingredients packed with sugar. Just because you are drinking a smoothie does not always mean healthy!

Commercial ingredients tend to be higher in added sugar. Reading the label of a ready-made product will help you identify ingredients to look for: granulated sugar, ice cream and sherbet.

It can be a misconception that they are low in calories because some can pack more than 1,000 calories depending on the size and ingredients.

Establishments that sell smoothies may have a summary of ingredients and calorie counts. Smoothies can be used as an apparent weight loss tool if the intake does not increase your daily caloric needs.
They can be as filling as solid food, and drinking your calories rather than eating them can be just as satisfying but not for all your meals.

Begin experimenting with what you like, and the best way is to select your base, which will be juice, water or dairy. The most nutritious combine fruit, veggies, yogurt and healthy fats.

The superfoods rich in antioxidants are berries, and veggies will give you an extra power boost.
Making your smoothie is the first step in a combo that you will look forward to having each day with a recommended one serving.

If you are interested in making it a meal, include at least 25 grams of protein and 10 grams of protein for a snack. The pairing of ingredients is just as crucial as a well-planned meal.
Research what is beneficial for your dietary needs and ingredients, and be mindful of calories.

You can find many recipes online, and when you begin making them, you will quickly find your favorites.

There are a variety of blenders in all price ranges. Select one with a blade in the bottom with a container, good processing speed, and a cap for refrigeration in two container sizes.
Live, love life and have a smoothie.

PRIDE: Local nonprofit embraces inclusiveness

15The Gallup Poll first measured LGBTQ data within communities in 2012. At the time, the population who identified as LGBTQ was around 3%. In the latest poll, Gallup reports the number of people who identify as LGTBQ has risen to 7.1%, with higher percentages among those born from 1981 to 2003.

“If you take in the population of Fayetteville, that means there’s about 15,000 people in Fayetteville who identify as LGBTQ,” said Katrinna Marsden, president, Fayetteville PRIDE. “In Cumberland County, that’s like 24,000. If you look at the surrounding areas, that’s around 60,000 people who identify as LGBTQ, and that’s just the general percentage.”
Fayetteville PRIDE began in March 2017 with a PrideFest interest meeting at the Cliffdale Library. Previously, a Facebook group had been what connected LGBTQ individuals in the area, but during the meeting, it became clear to attendees a nonprofit group could really help the community.

By April 2017, a board was set up; Marsden, a founding member, wrote the bylaws, and they were signed into action. The organization achieved nonprofit status in October 2017.
According to its website, Fayetteville PRIDE’s mission is “to instill pride, celebrate unity and embrace diversity and inclusiveness in our LGBTQ community and allies, and provide a support network and educational advocacy group dedicated to increasing awareness and acceptance.”

“We sat down as a board and decided that yes, having a PrideFest was a goal, but we didn’t want that to be our only emphasis. We knew pretty quickly that we wanted to have community service projects, we wanted to have events for the community, we wanted to be involved in more ways than just putting on a party,” Marsden said.
Community projects for the organization have helped groups such as Seth’s Wish, a homeless center in Fayetteville. They organized a uniform drive for school uniforms. This year, the focus of Fayetteville PRIDE’s community project will be to help feed the hungry.

Fayetteville PRIDE also has a youth engagement group. Meetings are on the third Saturday of every month and are open for kids aged 12 to 19. The meetings are run by a board member who is also a social worker.

“The group focuses on learning about empowerment and living authentically,” Marsden said. “They explore that through artistic expression, and they work with a local artist.”

A long-term goal of Fayetteville PRIDE is to open a community center. Marsden expressed the desire to have a library with LGBTQ reading materials for all ages, spaces to have meetings more often than once a month and space more available for walk-in hours.

“It can be hard for people to find resources,” she said. “We are increasing awareness and acceptance for the community. It has been our goal since the beginning to have a community center. We’d use that as an umbrella for other LGBTQ organizations to use that space and for people to have meetings.”

Fayetteville PRIDE helps out the local civilian community and the soldiers of Fort Bragg. One of the very first events for the organization happened on the military installation. The group was invited to a panel discussion of transgender rights in the military during Fort Bragg’s LGBTQ observance day in 2017.

The organization has put on PrideFest every year since 2018, with the exception being 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, PrideFest will be held at Festival Park on June 25. PrideFest is the largest fundraiser in the Fayetteville PRIDE calendar, but Marsden wants the community to know Fayetteville PRIDE is more than PrideFest.

“We aren’t just a festival, we are an organization that is year-round, and our mission is about embracing diversity. It’s about being a support network and being an educational advocacy group,” she said.

“I think that most people who are LBGTQ have spent some part in their lives, and that time varies for everybody, where they’ve wondered how they fit into the definition of what normal is. I think that when you are kind of figuring yourself out, finding out that there is a group of people who have a similar experience to that makes you feel like you have a place in the world,” she said.

For more information, or to donate to Fayetteville PRIDE, visit www.fayettevillepride.org/. For more information about PrideFest, pick up the next edition of Up & Coming Weekly on stands June 8.

Half Pipe Dream concert to benefit local charities, food banks

14Tri-State Underground and the DaVille Skate Shop are hosting a concert May 28 at 8 p.m. in the skate shop at Rowan Skate Park. The concert will showcase three bands, two local and one from New York, who will play until midnight.

“I think it’s going to be a really good time,” said Timothy Day, co-founder of Tri-State Underground. “I book bands I want to see live, and as a result, I’m hyped about every show we put together. Hopefully, everyone else enjoys it.”

Machinegun Earl, out of Raleigh, Second Class Citizen from New Bern, and Like Minded Criminals from Long Island, New York, will all be playing throughout the night.

“I had a large list of local bands I was able to choose from. I haven’t seen the two local bands in person yet, but the recorded stuff they have sent me in their submissions is pretty fantastic. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them live at a Tri-State show,” Day said.

“(Like Minded Criminals) have done a ton of shows for me over the years. Anyone who comes out to the show will very much enjoy these guys. They have to be one of the best on-site bands I’ve ever worked with.”

Tri-State Underground began in the Wilmington, Delaware, area about five years ago. The purpose of the group was to bring together lesser-known bands with more well-established bands, but as Tri-State Underground evolved, they began to find another purpose: to help out communities through their shows. Currently, several of the group members live in North Carolina and have been working to bring shows to the area.

They ask concertgoers to bring non-perishable food items, which are donated to local food banks. Proceeds from the sales of their T-shirts and sweatshirts are donated to local charities and food shelters. Rainbow Records contributed used vinyl albums to Tri-State Underground, which they raffle off at every show. The proceeds of the raffle are also donated.

Admission to the concert is $15, paid at the door. Part of the proceeds are paid to the bands, but the rest will be given to Friends of the Skateparks Foundation.

“When I was a kid, I loved skateboarding. It’s cool to go back and live that era again in a sense by putting together a show at a skate park. Since I started Tri-State, there have been a few things that I have wanted to do and have been interested in doing that haven’t come to fruition yet. One of those things was putting together a show at a skate park,” Day said.

Day says he hopes to continue to work with Terry Grimble, president and founder of the DaVille Skate Shop.

“We are hoping that eventually, either in conjunction with Tri-State or just with Terry and other people he works with, we might be able to do full-on festivals outside at the skate park,” said Day. “The goal for him, and I hope I get to be a part of this, would be to utilize the outdoor pavilion and host music events outside as well. It’s a great spot; the scenery, the halfpipe, the bowl is there, the little creek with the walk-over bridge, the scenery at the park is just spectacular.”

The Half Pipe Dream concert will be held on May 28 at the DaVille Skate Shop and Rowan Skate Center. For more information about the show, visit https://stayhappening.com/e/half-pipe-dream-E2ISUARIOBI. For more information about the Rowan Skate Park, including summer camps and taking lessons, visit www.rowanskatepark.com/.

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