Fourth Annual Palustris Festival Spotlights Moore County Arts
BY MARY ELLE HUNTER
Special to The Pilot
The finishing touches have been put on the program for the annual salute to the arts in Moore County, as the presenters of the Palustris Festival oversee the March celebration for its fourth year.
The growing popularity of the festival - which attracted more than 8,000 people in 2012 - has led to an expansion from four to five days this year to accommodate the more than 100 separate events scheduled to take place March 20-24.
The Palustris Festival is presented jointly by the Arts Council of Moore County, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen Area, and PineStraw magazine, and draws attention to the significant assortment of performing, literary and visual arts that can be found in the area.
The presenters, who selected the unusual name of the festival from the Latin for longleaf pine, point out that a special connection exists between the county and its virgin longleaf pine forest in the Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve, the home of the oldest known living longleaf pine tree in the world.
One of the highlights in each of the previous festivals has become a continuing tradition - a birthday party for the oldest longleaf pine. Recalling features of the first three Palustris Festivals, Chris Dunn, executive director of the Arts Council, refers to appearances by the Capitol Steps, legendary saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and well-known folk singer Peggy Seeger as some of the artists who drew enthusiastic audiences.
"Other outstanding events which were crowd-pleasers," Dunn says, "were the first year's production of 'Greeting the Train,' written and directed by Southern Pines historian Ray Owen, who produced 'Bleeding Pines of Turpentine' for the 2011 Festival. And for an unusual musical event, last year's A Cappella Show Off introducing four regional university choral groups competing for honors was a winner."
This year's Palustris Festival promises to live up to its well-deserved reputation of presenting a whole spectrum of the visual, performing and literary arts in Moore County.
A full slate of lectures and events at Sandhills Community College, and other educational, entertaining and enlightening programs, are found on the schedule at such venues as the Southern Pines Library, the Village Arboretum, Aberdeen Parks and the county schools.
For those people interested in the visual arts, local art galleries and the Artists League of the Sandhills in Aberdeen are presenting special exhibitions and programs, and the work of the area's artists in pottery and photography will be displayed and demonstrated.
The 2013 Palustris Festival has an abundance of events focusing on the performing arts of theater, film, music and dance as well. Michael Learned, award-winning actress, is the star of the Judson Theatre Company's production of "Driving Miss Daisy," which will have four performances during the festival.
Through several multi-arts performances in Aberdeen's historic Old Bethesda Presbyterian Church, the Longleaf Cultural Theatre Ensemble will tell stories that speak to the human spirit, inspired by themes of nature, history and identity. Among other film and theatrical offerings, a troupe of youngsters known as the Young Shakespearians will present an adaptation of "Hamlet."
Musically, a style for almost every taste can be heard - everything from a sparkling jazz concert by the Wolff Brothers, to an appearance by McKenzie's Mill Band, headed by two local brothers who made it big in Nashville with their Southern rock sounds.
Music lovers can take in a pops concert by the Pinecrest Orchestra, listen to the Moore County Choral Society's Ensemble, or catch one or two of the distinctive and innovative musical groups performing at the Poplar Knight Spot in Aberdeen.
Chris Dunn says a call is being made for volunteers needed to fulfill the staffing needs of the Palustris Festival, and people are encouraged to let the Arts Council know of their availability for as many days as they might be able to help out during the five-day period. Call the council at (910) 692-2787.
A complete schedule of events for the 2013 festival can be found at www.Palustris Festival.com.
Sponsors for the festival are also being sought. It is not too late for businesses or individuals to sign up to sponsor an event or to make a donation.
Chris Dunn has the details of the various categories of sponsorship that are available, and invites those interested in becoming part of the collaborative effort to join with the public-spirited residents of Moore County who support the Palustris Festival, which has increasingly caught the attention of the state and the region over the last three years.
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