Over the last two weeks, a group of rising ninth-graders have visited various places, from a plastics plant in Lenoir to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, to learn about jobs in the region, North Carolina history and most importantly how to be a leader in their future careers.
In 1972, a group of community leaders in Lenoir started a small festival to showcase local talent – The Black Arts Festival, presenting paintings, drawings, sculptures, dancing and more.
Over the years it grew and gained traction, growing into a weeklong celebration of community in Caldwell County, changing its name to Harambee, a Swahili word meaning “all pull together.”
This Saturday, the 42nd Annual Harambee Arts Festival kicks off, and for nearly a week will feature events and activities that folks in Caldwell County have come to look forward to each summer.
Even in the pouring rain, a handful of 4-H club members were ready to learn about horse care and first aid at the Horsing Around Camp last week.
At Morning Glory Farms, rain pummeled down the arena and barn in Baton at the start of camp, but once the horses Magic, Kia and Shariff were tacked up and ready to ride, the clouds stopped their downpour.
In the basement of his home, Robert “Bob” Kogut of Lenoir sat at a large work table under a dim, reddish light working on his 166th fiddle. The table was covered in carving tools and thick layers of wood dust and shavings. In his large hands, Kogut twisted a tuning knob into the neck of his new fiddle. He had just begun the process of making a fiddle, which typically lasts two or three months, and already he was in love with the new instrument.
Fall webworms are noticeable in trees around Caldwell County. As their name implies, fall webworms create a web. The web provides the worms protection from predators and allows the worms to feed freely inside their web.
In a classroom at the Patterson Science Center this week, everywhere you looked there were robotics in the making — Lego robotic puppies, copper spiders and moving paper hands.
Tina Nordan's goal is for her restaurant to get as much of its food and ingredients from local sources as possible.
She has found that can sometimes be a challenge.
“This is about you guys being as creative as you want,” Erica Lein, youth services librarian, told the children gathered around the tables of paper, markers and scissors at the Lenoir branch of the Caldwell County Public Library.
However, creativity was not the problem at Wednesday’s make your own pop-up craft. It was actually understanding the instructions.
Underneath the murky brown water, prehistoric-looking creatures swam with gaping mouths and aimlessly staring eyes. Their bodies were long and bony with flat fins and long noses. They moved about in huge cement pools, swarming underneath the mouths of automatic feeders, at a warehouse in Happy Valley.
Jarae Garcia, 6, and Harold Garcia, 4, ran in the grass at the Sawmills Farmers Market under a sky of thick, rolling clouds. They were celebrating Physical Activity Day at Kids’s Corner, a special tent for children at the farmers market, hosted by the Caldwell County Health Department.
Elizabeth Norris pointed through walls made only of two-by-fours, telling a group of visitors that this space, now only concrete and bare walls, will be a kitchen, a dining room, a sleeping area — a home for Lenoir’s homeless.
Norris led a tour Tuesday evening of the new LEOS Place, or Lenoir Emergency Outreach Shelter, the only homeless shelter in the area.
The old Lenoir bus station on Harper Avenue has sprung back to life in recent weeks, with interior walls coming down and new equipment going up, transforming the building into what its owner hopes will be a first-rate gastropub.
In the 1920s, Bill Crump ordered a packet of seeds from a Sears Roebuck catalog to help him stave erosion after a flood washed through his woodworking mill in Cary’s Flat, near the headwaters of Wilson Creek.
In the 70 years since then, the plant that grew from those seeds, Japanese knotweed, has multiplied exponentially, migrated down the creek and taken up residence along uninhabited stream banks.
In 1961, President John Kennedy made his famous address to Congress announcing his aspiration to put men on the moon and return them to Earth by the end of the decade.
The heat of the July sun baked the field and players at Sawmills Veterans Park. A small crowd cheered encouragement from the sidelines, including the mayor of Sawmills, Bob Gibbs, sitting in a fold-out chair with a floppy sunhat on his bald head.
Regardless of your motivation, there are many opportunities for you to enjoy gardening while enjoying the benefits of a community activity.
Eleven-year-old Kaylee Fitzgerald carefully measured out fruit punch, seltzer water and cola syrup with a small eyedropper. She allowed the liquid to drip carefully into a paper Dixie cup decorated with pink and green owls. Her brother, Riley Miller, 7, mimicked her every move.
The squeals and shouts of children’s voices echoed through the thick trees at the Tuttle Educational State Forest.
“Come here! Give me a bowl!”
“He’s trying to pinch the stick!”
Celia Chimento, 8, chopped a stick of butter into uneven slices in a baking sheet, which was put in the oven for the butter to melt. In a separate bowl, she carefully stirred together flour, sugar and milk alongside her 4-H Club friends on Friday. Chimento tried whisking the mixture and abruptly leaned back as the liquid sloshed against the sides of the bowl.
She and 10 other children were busy Friday making blackberry cobbler to be part of the cobbler patchwork at the North Carolina Blackberry Festival.
The first day that a child spends with a new foster parent can be hectic, lots to do and little time for the two to get acqainted, but at Caldwell County Department of Social Services, there's a second-floor room that can take away some of that pressure and even provide the first foundations of a new relationship.
Dana Snyder, parent volunteer for Caldwell County’s 4-H Club, held up an open spiral notebook covered in writing in front of 16 young club members.
“This is my DIY Bible right here,” Snyder said. “And if anybody touches it, I kind of go nuts!”
On weekends for about the past six months, volunteers have been making their way to Zacks Fork Road in Lenoir, hauling shovels and picks and rakes in the woods, working to create a first for Caldwell County — a trail built specifically for mountain-biking.
Eight-year-old Kaitlyn Rader plunged her small hands into what looked like a bowl of yellow, gooey rubber. The yellow “gloop” and flecks of yellow powder stuck to her skin, making her hands look like the yellow, scaly paws of a mini monster.
Fifty-six gentlemen signed the Declaration of Independence, which we commemorate each July 4.
Each July, downtown Lenoir gets taken over by the product of a thorny, thicket-growing plant, colonizing the streets and sidewalks and creating a ruckus throughout the city.
This weekend, it will happen again, at the 13th annual North Carolina Blackberry Festival, bringing 150 vendors and nearly 15,000 visitors to celebrate that thorny plant.