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The Standard

Arts in the park starts new season with ‘stellar day'

By By Beyonca Mewborn Correspondent,

2023-03-14

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GRIFTON — A new festival series that features music and arts vendors and a place for businesses and nonprofits to promote themselves kicked off its second season last weekend along Contentnea Creek.

More than 100 people and 40 vendors gathered for Grifton Arts in The Park on March 5 at the Contentnea Creekside Overlook Park to enjoy nice weather and hear live performances from local musicians and the Low Tide String Band.

“This is our fifth event that we’ve had,” said Grifton resident Amy Hahn, who coordinates the event with Joseph Scott and other volunteers to create a “family town feel” in Grifton.

“We had events last year and this is our kickoff for the season; we have 42 vendors, some nonprofit organizations that came out and volunteered, youth groups volunteered to help with free face painting, we have Fairy Hair out here, we even have a free book table to promote literacy, and the Lions Club came out to do vision screenings.”

Veronica Bradford of Quality Design Services was there to promote the graphic design business that initially started as an inspirational, funny, all-occasion T-shirt business.

“As a new business owner I ran into challenges when I first started, and what I endeavored to do is to help other small businesses and entrepreneurs actually overcome those challenges,” Bradford said.

Events like Grifton Arts in The Park are exactly what small businesses need, she said. “Oftentimes when you’re starting out as a small business you don’t have a lot of capital, you need that extra push to be able to market your business, and this is actually a godsend to have an event like this to come out and showcase your small business.”

Kelly Pruitt and Allison Watson with Mystic Vibes are independent consultants for Paparazzi accessories. They were selling $5 jewelry.

“I grew up in Ayden, which is very close to Grifton; I have family that lives here in Grifton, and we’ve been doing Arts in the Park ever since they started,” said Pruitt. “We just love it because it’s always just nice out here and we love the people,” said Pruitt.

Sam Weatherly of the Low Tide String Band said that he and his bandmates, Brad and Karen Brechtelsbauer, have been performing together since 2016 out of Greenville and they came out early to help set up the sound for some of the earlier performers. “We do Americana folk country,” said Weatherly. “We perform at little functions like this, festivals and local bars.”

After their first set that band introduced a 15-year-old from Wilson, Efren Mitchell, who performed in between their sets.

Weatherly said that they met Mitchell at an open mic night at the Naughty Dog Brewery in Winterville and immediately saw he was talented. “We were impressed by him; he heard about this function and he’s out here performing a few songs himself.”

Events like Arts in the Park are great for people who have a passion for music, Weatherly said. “So we love to see that, and we’re supportive of that. And really the music community in general in this area is super supportive of anybody who wants to do well; Efren wants to grow in his craft, so this is a perfect venue for that.”

Grifton Arts in The Park President Joseph Scott said the beautiful weather, tons of vendors and an outpouring of support made for a “stellar day.” The event was much bigger than previous ones because of the demand for growth that people are wanting in Grifton.

“We’re gonna try to give it to him as much as we can, as long as they keep supporting us we’ll continue to grow,” said Scott. “It means everything to me to see what a good turnout we had today, and it just does my heart so good to see the people of Grifton support this because we do this for the people of Grifton and no one else could just for the people of Grifton the surrounding areas.”

“We’ve taken up this task because we both wanted to see this town come back to life,” said Hahn. “We wanted people to see this beautiful park and enjoy it, not just let it sit here, we wanted them to see that we have talent in this town, we need to promote it, and we need to let it shine.”

Upcoming events will be held at the park on Water Street on the first Sunday in April, May, June, September, October and November.

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