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JCVB Blog

The Johnston County Visitors Bureau BLOG is published weekly with news and feature articles on visiting the county.

Celebrate New Year's Eve at The Farm

Celebrate New Year's Eve at The Farm

If you’ve been to, or heard of, Farm Fest then you know that The Farm in Semla, NC puts on one heck of a show. Last year, their first ever New Year’s Eve bash was a packed-house success. This year’s event will be no different. Dance and groove to the sounds of Jim Quick and Coastline. Enjoy small bites provided by Backyard Bistro catering. Cheers to the new year in style. And watch the ball drop on the big screen at midnight!

The Farm asks that you come dressed in your festive attire (no jeans please) and celebrate 2017 with wonderful music and great friends. Doors will open at 8:00PM and there will be a cash bar including beer, wine, and soft drinks.  You must be at least 18 years of age to join the party. Taxis will be available outside after the event for those that will need a ride home.

This year, the Johnston County Visitors Bureau has worked with area Smithfield hotels to offer an exclusive hotel rate for visitors that have tickets to The Farm event and need accommodations in the area. There is a link to purchase tickets on this page here. Participating hotels are located just miles from the venue and include Baymont, Best Western, Country Inn & Suites, Holidays Inn Express, Sleep Inn, and Super 8.

Trent Lassiter, General Manager at The Farm Entertainment Venue is ready to put on the event again, “We are excited to be ringing in 2017 at The Farm!  This is our second year hosting a New Year's Eve event like this and it's sure to be a good time.”  

The Farm’s other events like Farm Fest and Beach Fest draw hundreds of people from all around the eastern part of the state.  People are looking for unique events to attend and The Farm’s packed calendar proves that Lassiter is willing and ready to offer it, “Lots of people from our area, not to mention visitors and travelers on I-95, used to have to drive over to Raleigh and other places for a NYE party such as this. But now, they can toast the new year in Johnston County with a fun night of entertainment at a great venue.”

For more information on New Years at The Farm and hotel rates, visit our dedicated webpage. To find out more about The Farm’s events and concerts throughout the year, visit their Facebook page.

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Festival Celebrates Five Years of Making and Sharing Music

Festival Celebrates Five Years of Making and Sharing Music

 
The Clayton Piano Festival is celebrating their 5th season this Fall with an astounding line-up of artists. The season schedule of concerts will run October 14th through October 22nd. Organizers are expanding the festival to reach a larger community and have added additional events to celebrate this important anniversary. This year there will be six concerts with one at the Cary Arts Center and another at the Preston Woodall House in Benson, with the remaining events to be held in Clayton.

Both the Creative Director of the festival and a performer every year, Johnston County local Jonathan Levin is excited to showcase the growth of the festival as it enters year five, “Our goal over the years has been to share the joy and exhilaration that great music can bring in a fresh, new way each year, presenting a variety of top level classical artists from around the world.  I think at this point it’s become an anticipated cultural event in the area and we’re very pleased about that.”

The format of the Clayton Piano Festival is built on the premise of accessibility and interaction with the artist. As in past years, there will be intimate dinner concerts at smaller venues, and social “meet the artist” receptions following the concerts to enhance the experience for attendees.  There will be outreach programs to area schools to share the importance of music education and bring concert quality performances to more than 1,000 students.
Clayton Piano Festival Year Five Poster
This year’s concerts include a variety of music genres such as Ragtime and progressive rock.  Levin explains that “the idea is to show the full extent of what the piano can do, not just one discipline.” Performances this year include Rachael Flowers, a multi-talented instrumentalist and composer who lost her sight as an infant. According to Levin the festival is happy to have booked her, “we’re getting her right before she becomes famous. Racheal just had a Hollywood documentary made about her that is already making the film festival circuit.”

Levin, himself always modest, will be a can’t miss performance as well. Just last week he performed a solo recital debut at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Rorianne Schrade reviewed the performance for New York Concert Review and had this to say, “Showmanship, intelligence, more than ample pianism, and sensitive musicality are all wrapped up in one package in this young artist, so he should do quite well in his career.” This year’s festival line-up offers a unique chance to catch Jonathan in his hometown of Clayton.

Along with returning performers Jonathan Levin and Angelo Rondello, newcomer and renown ragtime pianist and composer Mill McNally at the Preston Woodall House and Russian pianist Azamat Sydykov at the Wagner House will be charming audiences with their performances. Which include dinner provided by the venue, and each will also include a reception to meet the artist.

The final gala will truly be a show stopper.  Hear five CPF artists perform, each sharing inspiring insights into a work with special personal significance for them.  Special guest, Mary Prescott, an adventurous, multi-genre artist, joins the others as she shares her unique voyage into learning the art of improvisation. To conclude the concert and the 5th season, all 5 artists will perform together on stage at the same time…on 5 pianos! With six hundred seats to fill, the organizers of the final concert are offering FREE tickets for children up to age 18, one for each paid adult ticket.

General ticket prices for Concerts with Dinner at The Wagner House and Preston Woodall House are $45.00 adult, $35.00 seniors, $25.00 students, concerts only $15.00 for adults and $5.00 students.  For the Sunday performance by Jonathan Levin at the Wagner House, tickets are $15.00 adults and $5.00 students/children.  The final concert performance featuring all five pianos will be $20.00 adults, $15.00 for seniors and military, and FREE for children under 18 years old. Tickets for the event are available at www.claytonpianofestival.org/schedule-tickets and tickets for the final performance may be purchased directly with The Clayton Center at www.theclaytoncenter.com.

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Scenic Settings and Summer Sounds

Scenic Settings and Summer Sounds

Warm summer evenings call for a cold drink and some tunes. Thankfully, there are quite a few places in Johnston County where you can have both. We’ve rounded up musical performances happening around the county over the next month. Click through the links to find out more about each one. Also, don’t forget to follow the Johnston County Visitors Bureau on Facebook or visit www.johnstoncountyevents.com to stay up-to-date on events happening in the county.

July 23rd – Bluegrass Fest at the Farm – gates open at 11:00am
Performers include The Malpass Brothers and Al Batten & The Bluegrass Reunion. Bring a chair or a blanket and enjoy some of the best bluegrass acts round.

July 24th – Live Music on the Front Porch – 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Hinnant Vineyards has a glass of chilled wine and Wade Hill ready to serenade you on the front porch as you gaze about you at the lush vineyards.

July 29th – The Little Mermaid – 7:00am
The Clayton Youth Theater presents The Little Mermaid, a musical sea adventure for all ages. If you can’t catch it on the 29th be sure to visit their website for other dates and times. The show runs through the 6th of August.

August 11th – Sun down in Downtown Concerts – 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Come to the Benson Singing Grove to listen to Jim Quick and the Coastline Band. Bring a lawn chair and a picnic basket to make an evening out of it.

August 20th – An Evening with Gaylon Pope and Sweetwater – 8:00pm to 10:00pm
The Rudy Theatre, home of the American Music Jubilee, presents a special evening with Gaylon Pope.

August 20th – Clayton Town Square Concert Series – 5:30pm to 9:30pm
This month’s concert features Kasey Tyndall with the Big River Band. Evenings on the town square are made even better by the presence of Deep River Brewing and Wine on Main to provide libations while you jam.

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State Annual Singing Convention Celebrates 96th Year

State Annual Singing Convention Celebrates 96th Year

An Event that is 96 Going on 100


According to their website, "The State Annual Singing Convention, which brings thousands of people to Benson each year, began modestly in a tobacco warehouse in 1921. About 200 people listened to two choirs that day. Since that time, the State Annual Singing Convention has grown and become one of the largest and oldest gospel sings in the United States."

The picture below (left) is an old black and white photo capturing the early days of this almost 100 year old event that attracts participants and spectators from all over the southeast. This year's convention, nicknamed the Benson Sing, is expecting over 50 amateur, semi-professional and professional competitors. The other picture below (right) is what the singing grove will look like when you attend the event this year - sitting on almost 96 years of musical history.

                                      
You can visit the Benson Museum of Local History to learn all about the long history of the singing convention, including more information about its founders. But here's some interesting facts to get you started:

•    S. P. Honeycutt, J. B. Raynor, T. C. Miller, J. V. Barefoot, and J. H. Rose were the 1921 founding fathers of the “sing.”  When the old warehouse on Market Street was destroyed by fire in 1922 and the group had to find a new place to meet, Mrs. Catherine Benson, Honeycutt’s mother-in-law, donated an oak-shaded grove in the middle of town and the site became the permanent home of the State Singing Convention.

•    In the first year of the sing Trinity Church Choir, lead by O.H. Barefoot, and the New Zealand Choir, led by Noah Blackman, tied in the competition.  In the tie-breaker, the Silver Loving Cup was awarded to the New Zealand Choir by the judges.

•    In 1943, during World War II, the organizers decided to cancel the competition.  However, after notices were placed around the state in area newspapers and sent to area churches over 3,000 people showed up on the fourth weekend in June. Organizers proceeded with the competition to entertain the faithful followers of the Sing.


BYOLC - Bring Your Own Lawn Chair


The Ninety-sixth State Annual Singing Convention will be held Friday, June 24th through Sunday, June 26th in the Singing Grove, a beautiful city park at 400 East Main Street in Benson, North Carolina. No admission is charged, and people are encouraged to bring a lawn chair to sit and enjoy the music.  On Friday, the following groups will each present thirty minute concerts starting at 7pm: Full Reliance, The Hinshaw Trio, Journey ‘N Faith, Divine Intention, Heaven’s Grace, and Maranatha Singers.

On Saturday The Inspirations will be featured in a special concert at 7pm with The Hickory Grove Quartet opening at 6:30pm. A household name in any musical genre, the Inspirations are models of consistency in the Southern Gospel Music field. They originated in 1964 when Martin Cook, a chemistry teacher at Swain County High in Bryson City, NC, and a few of his students and friends held nightly singing sessions in the basement of his home, purely for fun. A few of them decided to take their act on the road a few years later and immediately took Southern Gospel Music by storm. The Inspirations have remained at the forefront of the genre since, while achieving tremendous popularity and success. They make up a four-part harmony quartet with an unmistakable sound, striking the medium of traditional Southern Gospel and country.



As customary, informal (round robin) singing begins at 10am on Saturday and Sunday and continues daily with only two exceptions: (1) during group competition (2) during the special concerts by The Inspirations and The Hickory Grove Quartet on Saturday night.  All groups are welcome and encouraged to sing in the contests.  People are welcome to come out and watch at any time. On Saturday and Sunday competing junior and senior groups including duets, trios, quartets, families, and church choirs begin at 2 pm.


Sing Your Heart Out - How to Participate


If you're interested in participating instead of spectating, groups singing in Saturday’s competition are asked to fill out a registration form in the office in the Singing Grove by 1pm on Saturday.  Groups singing in Sunday’s competition are asked to fill out a registration form in the office by 1pm on Sunday.  There is no on-line registration this year.  Please call, fax, or email if you have questions - contact information below.  There are NO SOLOS due to time restraints.  There is no entry fee to compete in the contests.

The State Annual Singing Convention, Inc. website, www.gospelsingingconvention.org, has important information for 2016. You can also visit them on Facebook at State Annual Singing Convention – Benson Sing.  Please call (919)-894-4389, or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for additional information.

If you're interested in more summer events, shows, and concerts in the Johnston County area, visit johnstoncountyevents.com.

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It's Fall Ya'll

It's Fall Ya'll

 

There is so much going on in Clayton this Fall that I might not fit it all into this one post. But, I will try. The season of crisp air, warm apple pies, plump pumpkins, and autumn leaves is a magnificent time to be in Johnston County. Festivals, concerts, spooky hay rides, 5K races, and pumpkin patches dappled with autumnal light are just a few highlights from what is unabashedly my favorite season.

Clayton Shindig

Clayton Shindig

If you haven't already circled October 10th on the calendar like we have, get a red pen out. In just two weeks the 4th Annual Clayton Shindig is bringing bands, beer, and BBQ to Johnston County. Running from 11:30AM till 9:00PM the line-up this year includes some heavy hitters, like Grammy nominated band The Steeldrivers and nationally recognized band The Black Lillies. The line-up also includes some of JoCo's own talented artist and you can see the full list at www.theshindigclayton.com. The link to purchase tickets for the event is on the site as well.

Moreover, the bands won't be the only thing on tap at the Shindig. Local breweries Deep River, Double Barley, Draft Line, Aviator, and Raleigh Brewing will be ready to quench your thirst as you rock out. And thanks to Squealin' on the Square there will be some good ole' eastern style BBQ being served up.

Squealin' on the Square

You might not want to get up quite as early as the Fifth Annual Clayton Chamber of Commerce BBQ Cookoff teams do. Squealin' on the Square teams are serious about cooking their pig to perfection, and some get started as early as 5:00AM. The good news for BBQ lovers and Shindig go-ers is all that hard work pays off Saturday evening.

BBQ plates will be available to the public on Saturday, October 10th for $8.00 per plate from 4:00PM to 7:00PM. Purchase your BBQ plates from the Clayton Chamber of Commerce tent set-up at the Shindig. Or purchase them ahead of time by contacting the Chamber offices at 919-553-6352.

Clayton Center Concert Series

From sweet American blue grass and Celtic folk tunes to wildly talented guitar playing, the Clayton Center kicks off their Palladian Series with 2 stellar acts in October and November respectively. On October 24th the Annie Moses BandAnnie Moses Band (pictured at right) takes the stage, bringing their effervescent harmony and blended instrumentation to popular folk tunes and classical compositions. On November 7th join Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo - a charismatic duo of guitar technique wonderment.

The season continues into December and well into 2016 with 4 other amazing acts: 3 Redneck Tenors Christmas Spec-Tac-Yule-Ar, Franc D'Ambrosio's Broadway performance, the rocking honky tonk sounds of Lee Roy Parnell, and lastly the swagger and soul of Grammy-winning Mike Farris. For more information on each artist, and to purchase tickets, visit www.theclaytoncenter.com.

That's just a sneak peek of Fall in Clayton. There's so much more to do and see in all the nooks and crannies of Johnston County. For more information on happenings over the next few months, visit www.johnstoncountyevents.com. And try not to overdo it on pumpkin spice everything. It's Fall Ya'll!

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Kaylin Roberson Talks About Her Message and Her Music

Kaylin Roberson Talks About Her Message and Her Music

In this JoCo Has Talent Blog I sit down with local artist Kaylin Roberson to discuss her message and her music...

It's pretty hard to imagine having a life-altering experience at 9 years-old. At that age I was still struggling to decide which Backstreet Boy was cuter and how I could convince my parents to let me have a kitten. Kaylin Roberson however, was dealing with a traumatizing dog attack and having an epiphany regarding her place in the world.
Kaylin
"I was 9 and I was visiting my grandparents in Virginia. We had just gotten back from the fair and I went into the living room to pet their black lab who was sleeping. He woke up and he bit my face. I was in the hospital for 3 days and I was on life support for about 4 hours."

It's hard to believe that a child at such a young and venerable stage in life could take something inspiring away from that sort of incident, but Kaylin did. It was a wake-up call. In her more than 2 weeks recovery process Kaylin spent a lot of time making videos. She had always enjoyed dancing, acting, and singing; she can also play the heck outta a piano. But, those 14 days allowed her to reflect on her passion for music and her current circumstances.

"I knew that I would have to go back to school and my face was still swollen. I had to have over 200 stitches. I wondered if my friends would ridicule me. I thought about what I had been through and what I would have to go through and music really helped me. I thought, what if I can help other kids."


Sharing Her Music


And so, eight years later, that's what Kaylin Roberson is doing. Using music to inspire and help others. You may have seen her at JCC performing in the Country Music Showcase, or more recently out at The Farm Food Truck Festival as one of the local acts. She also travels around with One Voice Project (an anti-bullying tour) and Doggone Safe (a dog safety and bite prevention non-profit) in order to use her story and her music to inspire and comfort. She has sung for orphanages, schools, and dog attack victims.
Kaylin Singing
Once Kaylin realized what she wanted to do with her music, she got serious about it. She started taking lessons and also committed to other talents she had previously dabbled in. She is what the industry calls a triple threat - trained in singing, acting, and dancing.

For an artist who has taken voice lessons with Clay Aiken and shared a stage with Jason Michael Carroll, it's humbling to hear her talk about the highlight of her career so far, "I love seeing the reaction other kids have to my music. A lot of kids I've visited with and played for still follow me, still ask when I'm coming back to perform near them. The other day a lady called my Mom to tell her that her children had started a Kaylin Task Force at their school to combat bullying."

At 16 Kaylin is well on her way to the big stage, but she says that she doesn't mind if she has to play a thousand little gigs to get there. It's all part of working your way up. She shared with me her thoughts on making it big, "you have to be the background music before you can be the main act." Sage advice. A young lady very mature for her age, I often forgot that I was sitting with someone more than a decade my junior.

When she isn't performing Kaylin is busy song-writing, something she finds more of a relaxing hobby than a chore. It is important in the music industry to build a catalogue of solid, original songs and she is well on her way. She has two new songs dropping very soon, one is called Sad But True. She also has a music video out for her song Life Must Go On.

 

Her Inspiring Message


I asked her where she draws her inspiration from when writing lyrics, "the best songs come from personal experiences, but I also listen to the cool things that other artists are doing. I steal experiences from my friends sometimes. Writing songs is about really emotional moments - joy and sadness."

Who's her dream collaboration? Sam Hunt. Excellent choice. She also says that she has a real respect for singer/songwriters like Ed Sheeran and Birdy. Her favorite song to cover recently has been Cam's Burning House. Kaylin's next big step is going to be getting signed by a record label... hopefully! But you can still catch her around the county from time to time. She played the Ham & Yam festival a few months ago and she loves performing in JoCo.

When she's not working on or performing music Kaylin likes to dance, shop, hang with friends, and go to country concerts. She also plays with her dog, a chocolate lab who's older now but who came to her and her family as a puppy... a few weeks before the dog attack that changed Kaylin's life. She said she wouldn't let her parents get rid of the dog and she didn't want the dog that bit her put down either - he was saved thanks to Virginia's first bite forgiveness rule.

"I'm not afraid of dogs. It's not the dogs fault. But, dog attacks do happen and much more often than you think. That's why I work with Doggone Safe. They educate adults and children on how to interact with dogs and it allows me to work with victims to share my own story and share my music."

Check out Kaylin's music at the provided links, and if you have a chance check her out in concert (she performs at a lot of events in Raleigh, the Triangle, and Johnston County). She is one talented teen and one incredibly thoughtful soul. I certainly wish her the best on her musical journey.

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A JohnsTON of Music this Summer

A JohnsTON of Music this Summer

 

A JohnsTON of Music this SummerLife is Grand

 

It's almost time for the lazy days of summer. The southern evening heat and the dance of fireflies makes you want to park it on a lawn chair somewhere and put a cool drink in your hand. And even if you can't forsake the daily grind of the week day for a truly lazy summer experience, you can at least seek every weekend opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy the music. The communities in Johnston County have lined-up summer entertainment so good and plentiful you'll have to get up and dance. Whether you're a permanent resident or a passer-through looking for something to do, check out the comprehensive list below and mark these dates on your calendar. Beach music, country, and rock-n-roll. Come on out ya'll and watch these bands crank it up!

 

 

When and Where to Find the Music

The Farm - Selma
May 30 - Rodney Atkins
Sept. 12 - 4th Annual Farm Fest - Line up TBA

Take a Back Road - Rodney Atkins

Downtown Smithfield Friday Night Concert
Entertainment TBA
May 15, June 19, Sept. 18

Clayton Town Square Concert Series
May 21 - Jack the Radio
June 18 - Southern Grace
July 16 - Coco Loco Party Band
August 20 - Idlewild South
Sept 17 - Walrus

Jessica by Idlewild South

 

Sundown in Benson

Concerts at the Crossroads - Flower's Plantation
May 10 - The Tams
Sept. 13 - Jim Quick and the Coastline Band

Sundown in Benson
May 14 - Too Much Sylvia
June 11 - The Band of Oz
July 9 - The Attractions
Aug. 3 - Jim Quick and the Coastline Band

Third Thursday Concerts - Four Oaks
June 18 - Bethesda Bluegrass Band
Sept. 17 - Jonathan Parker and the Bel-Airs and Carolina Traditional Bluegrass Band

 

 

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Beer Wine & Shine Trail

beer wine and shine trail logo

Travel around the county to four award-winning wineries, two breweries and get a taste of brandy along the way!  Receive a Free $30 coupon book when you complete the trail.

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Meeting Planners

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Johnston County offers conveniently located and affordable conference facilities for meetings, reunions, and unique destination weddings sites.  Why not select a historic home or horse farm for your next event?

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Group Tour Operators

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Groups have discovered exits along I-40 and I-95 for outlet shopping, music theatre, museums and heritage sites.  Call today for custom itinerary planning.

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Hotel Packages

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We have created several special hotel packages including a Girlfriends Getaway for outlet shopping, we know you need a break and great deals on shoes!  Click here to book your getaway today.

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FREE TRAINING

 

Check out what other travelers say about Johnston County, North Carolina on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor
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