Festivals are coming into bloom across our state and across a range of arts, celebrating craft, music, dance and the joy of being in touch with our artful culture. Here are some of the best.
The Catawba Valley, spanning Catawba and Lincoln Counties in western North Carolina, remains home to a living tradition of old-time pottery making. While pottery traditions also remain concentrated in and around Seagrove and Winston-Salem, each region has its own pottery heritage, its own master potters and its own particular take on the craft.
Dr. Terry Zug
The 12th annual Catawba Valley Pottery and Antiques Festival will give you an opportunity to meet the potters and watch them work. Pottery expert Dr. Terry Zug, former chair of Southern Folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill and author of Turners and Burners: The Folk Potters of North Carolina, makes these recommendations to first-time festival goers:
“The things that you buy to ornament your home these days come from all over the world, and you don’t know who made them or where they’re from,” Hewitt says.
“When you go to a pottery festival like Catawba Valley, you get to interact with the potters, you get something specifically North Carolinian, and you get something that is handmade that will warm the interior of your home with great friendliness and generosity of spirit. What you have in your home will directly reflect where you live. That’s special and very rare. It’s kind of like going to a farmer’s market and buying local produce.”
Haliwa Saponi Powwow
North Carolina is home to the largest population of Native Americans east of the Mississippi. Powwows are important ways for Native American people to keep their traditions alive and to share them with others. Described as part family reunion, part cultural celebration, part social gathering and part educational opportunity, a powwow is an opportunity to experience traditional languages, songs and dances. With so many Native American people in North Carolina, there are opportunities throughout the year to experience powwows.
The 44th annual Haliwa-Saponi Powwow, held in Hollister at the border of Halifax and Warren counties, is scheduled April 17–19. It’s from those counties, which were the ancestral homelands of the tribe, that the present-day name “Haliwa” was derived, with “Saponi” reflecting their historical lineage. There are 3,800 enrolled members of this tight-knit tribe in North Carolina, and most live in this immediate area.
This year’s powwow theme, “Women of Honor” will recognize the contributions of Haliwa-Saponi women to the tribe and community. The powwow also will feature American Indian dancing, singing, arts and crafts vendors, and traditional American Indian and southern style foods. Over 300 dancers and up to eight drum groups will travel from all parts of the United States and Canada to help the tribe celebrate the oldest powwow in North Carolina and the tribe’s recognition. For more information, contact Marty Richardson (252) 586-4017 ext. 245, or Archie Lynch (252) 586-4017 ext. 222.
Many Native Americans have been recipients of the North Carolina Arts Council Heritage Awards. They include Haliwa-Saponi potter Senora Richardson Lynch, Lumbee traditional craft and visual artist Lela Brooks, and Waccamaw-Sioux quilter Elizabeth “Lee” Graham Jacobs. North Carolina’s largest federally-recognized Native American population is Cherokee, located in ancestral lands in the western part of our state. Cherokee Heritage Trails shows you how to experience, understand and reverence the sacred places, community ties, storytelling and folk arts that define authentic Cherokee heritage. You’ll find a list of upcoming public events at www.cherokeeheritagetrails.org.
The North Carolina Arts Council’s Cherokee Artist Directory is another way to explore practitioners of traditional craft, performing arts, oral traditions, visual arts, traditional dance and folklore.
Spring is a great time for a visit to the North Carolina coast, and the Beaufort County Arts Council offers a perfect reason for making the trip: the day-long Beaufort County Traditional Music Festival, held April 4 for the first time in downtown Washington on the waters of the picturesque Pamlico Sound. The festival will celebrate the music, art and culture of the region with special performances at the historic Turnage Theater, the Washington Civic Center, and at a waterfront pavilion near the Estuarium. Smaller venues and performance spots will line the waterfront stretch between Market and Gladden Streets.
Traditional music headliners will include Ocracoke Island’s Molasses Creek and Wilmington’s Barnraisers, along with other practitioners of Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, World, Ethnic and Progressive traditional music. There will be workshops on gospel singing, clogging, traditional dance, and the Beaufort County Arts Council will share its space with traditional artists and craftspeople who will also offer demonstrations and teaching workshops. For more information, visit the festival Web site.
|Mimi’s Artful Tour of Washington
Chef Mimi Linthicum
Whether or not your travels to the coast coincide with the Beaufort County Traditional Music Festival, a visit to the “original” Washington is a must for any art lover. Joey Toler, Executive Director of the Beaufort County Arts Council, put Chef Mimi Linthicum of Mimi’s Water Street Café in Washington on the case to offer us her own artful tour below. Click here for a map of the area.
Start your day browsing one of the many exhibitions showcased by the Beaufort County Arts Council in the Washington Civic Center Gallery. Be sure to call ahead (252-946-2504) for a schedule of music, dance, theatre, and participatory events as well as dates for the yearly craft shows and children’s events. Take a minute to peruse the Lane Gallery for “one-of-a-kind” pottery, a local cookbook, boxed cards or a beautiful print to take home.
Upon leaving the gallery and walking up Main Street on any given Saturday morning, you are likely to come upon The Beaufort County Traditional Music Association. This group of talented individuals combines their skills by pickin’ and playin’ bluegrass, country, and gospel music for the delight of others.
As you stroll up Main Street to browse in our many unique and eclectic shops, be sure to take in the beauty of the architecture along the way. Check out the newly-renovated Turnage Theatre and call ahead (252-975-1711) for a schedule of performances. As you peruse the shops, you will be sure to find handmade jewelry, silk print scarves, and framed reproductions of vintage postcards. Make a point to stop by Riverwalk Art Gallery.
As Main Street intersects with Market Street, you will find several more shops before coming to Water Street. On the right will be the Visit Washington office, where you can collect brochures or learn about the historic homes tour. On the left you will find Art Tyndall’s Studio which is full of his own creations.
Next on the agenda consider lunch at my place, Mimi’s Water Street Cafe (a coastal-chic cafe and deli). At Mimi’s you will find a beautiful view of the Pamlico River which can be enjoyed while eating on the porch on a nice day. While you’re waiting for your order, scan the walls and shelves for original paintings, watercolors, prints, framed poems and hand-beaded wine glasses.
After lunch, head up Water Street a half a block to the North Carolina Estuarium. The Estuarium is an aquarium with more than 200 unique exhibits about the Pamlico-Tar River System. Any art lover will delight in the floor-to-ceiling kinetic sculpture in the lobby and river scene murals on the walls. View a 15-minute film entitled “Journey thru the Peninsula” with background music by North Carolina’s own Red Clay Ramblers.
Your local arts council is a great place to find other upcoming festivals, including the Surry Arts Council’s Blue Ridge and Beyond Festival and Edgecombe Arts Council’s 39th Annual Happening on the Common. There are a number of spring festivals and kiln openings throughout the Seagrove pottery community—see a calendar of events here. To find even more local activities to enjoy during your travels, visit these Web sites: