By MIRANDA BAINES
All the ingredients are in place for a successful Happening on the Common in Tarboro Saturday. The only wild card is the weather.
Forecasters are calling for scattered thunderstorms and highs in the low 80’s. The chance of rain throughout the day is 60 percent.
“I don’t think it’s going to rain,” said Carol Banks, Happening coordinator for the Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council. “If we do, it will be after the event.”
The 43rd Annual Happening is scheduled for 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on the Town Common, and in the event of rain, the event will be cancelled and will not be rescheduled.
The other components of an outdoor spring festival are already in the mix, thanks to Banks’ careful planning for the event since January – a record number of arts and craft and non-profit vendors, 70, and 14 food vendors, offering up festival-style fare. The crowd estimate at last year’s happening was 5,000, and Banks expects large crowds again this year.
The arts and crafts vendors at the Happening will sell handmade offerings, from jewelry and handbags to jams and jellies. Children will have a chance to try their hand at making crafts from recycled materials under the instruction of representatives from the Scrap Exchange based in Durham. Banks’ hope is that the craft session will spark the children’s “creativity” and encourage them to “use their imagination.”
A full entertainment lineup for the day awaits festival attendees, as well. The Tar River Boys, a homegrown bluegrass band, will give a performance in memory of the band’s founder, Dr. Peter Temple.
“They have been performing for the Happening for many, many years. They’re a staple,” Banks said. The Tar River Community Band, a band from Greenville, will entertain the crowd with a variety of music as the opening act. A mariachi band will bring a Latin flavor to the festival later in the afternoon. Also on the roster are performances by the North East Carolina Prep School chorus and band, and the Stocks Elementary School chorus. Watching the children perform is Banks’ favorite part of the festival, but she likes all the musical acts.
“I like to hear and see the entertainment,” Banks said. Seeing the large crowds in a community of Tarboro’s size is rewarding for Banks.
“I look around and think, ‘Are all these people here from Tarboro and surrounding districts?’” said Banks. “I enjoy pulling it all together…It’s a very satisfying feeling at the end of the day.”
Edgecombe Arts coordinates the Happening as part of its mission of community involvement, said Banks.
A true community event, the Happening offers a venue for non-profit organizations and churches to promote awareness, as well. First Baptist Church of Tarboro will have a booth at the Happening to promote Pennies for Posho, an organization that helps Ugandan orphans. Folks passing the booth will have a chance to buy free throws to enter a raffle for an ACC tournament package. The proceeds will be used to sponsor a high school in Uganda.
“The average age in Uganda is 15. Between the political unrest and the AIDS epidemic, I think there are three million orphans in Uganda,” said Dr. Sammy Gregg of First Baptist Church.
The Girl Scouts and Relay for Life will be among the other non-profit organizations at the Happening.