‘Big city’ feel in small town Windsor

Published 8:35 am Tuesday, January 26, 2010

WINDSOR – The “small town” Bertie County Arts Council (BCAC) pulled off “big city” event here Saturday night.

In front of a cozy crowd that nearly reached 200 in number inside the Cashie Convention Center, BCAC hosted “Artion” – an art auction that was much more involved than its unique title.

Featuring a delicious meal and music from the legendary Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, the event rivaled the entertainment one might find at a venue in a large city.

“That was our main objective…offer an event right here in Bertie County that hasn’t been tried before,” said BCAC President Phyllis Johnson. “We want to keep local people here at home where they can enjoy local events, ones that you would typically have to drive an hour or more to attend.”

Based on the reaction she received from “Artion” patrons, the event was a success.

“We feel things went very well,” Johnson said. “We had a good turnout and everybody seemed pleased at the food, the entertainment and the atmosphere. We received a lot of good compliments.”

The silent auction table was crowded from start (6 p.m.) to finish (10 p.m.). Among the items were paintings by local artists, jewelry, unique furniture pieces (including a “time out chair” painted by Shannon Jennette and a fold-out table painted by children at BCAC’s 2009 Summer Art Day Camp), food items (casseroles, cakes, cookies, etc.), gift certificates, a bird call and a butterfly house.

“I thought we had a nice variety of items available for bids,” Johnson noted. “The silent auction generated a good amount of income for the Arts Council.”

While the meal was filling and the auction items proving as unique, the night’s main attraction belonged to an ageless wonder….Maurice Williams, a member of the South Carolina Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame and the Beach Music Hall of Fame in Myrtle Beach

Three months shy of his 70th birthday, Williams can still reach deep inside his bag of Carolina Beach music, authentic Motown, rhythm and blues and even some modern day classics and bring a crowd to its feet.

Highlighted by his trio of hits – “Stay,” “Little Darlin” and “May I”, Williams, accompanied by his legendary group, The Zodiacs, belted out song after song as he peered out over a dance floor filled with the young and the young at heart.

“What a performance,” Johnson said. “They put on a wonderful show here and then drove all the way back to Charlotte so they could perform at a church service on Sunday morning.”

She continued, “It was music that spanned the generations present; everyone could identify with the range of songs the band performed. While the younger crowd kept us entertained with their dancing skills, it was nice to see the older couples get out on the dance floor.”

All totaled, Johnson said 177 people were in attendance.

“It was a big event…a unique event,” she said. “This little part of Bertie County has never staged something of this magnitude before.”

“Artion” was brainstormed by BCAC members last fall.

“We needed a unique way to help us remodel our Arts Gallery (located at 124 South King Street, adjacent to the Windsor Town Hall),” Johnson stated. “It’s an old building in need of some work.”

Johnson complimented Tony Hughes who manages the Cashie Convention Center.

“The Center has been a recent work in progress and they’ve come a long way…it’s very spacious and a very comfortable place to hold events,” she noted.

As far as upcoming BCAC events, Johnson said the next one on the agenda is “In Love With Art”, a Black History Month tribute in February featuring African-American artists Erskine Spruill of Plymouth and David Brown of Williamston.

Beyond that are additional art exhibits, craft shows and workshops, including the popular Children’s Art Workshop scheduled this summer. BCAC members will even take their art “on the road” in March when they visit local nursing and rest homes.

Other than the obvious, which is to promote art, Johnson said the Council’s purpose mimics what unfolded on Saturday night.

“Anytime you have an opportunity to promote your hometown and your home county, you jump at the chance to do so,” she concluded. “We feel the strong presence of an Arts Council is a win-win situation for us all. When new people move into an area, one of the things they look for are venues for entertainment. We feel our Arts Council fits that billing. We feel we can help generate business for our local businesses.”

For more information about the BCAC, call 252-794-9402 or email bertiearts@earthlink.net.

The BCAC Gallery, staffed by volunteers, is open to the public from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on weekdays.