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One of the nation’s largest and most prestigious cross country events, the Great American Cross Country Festival, returned to Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park Cross Country Course this past weekend for the sixth consecutive year. More than 2,500 runners from 140 high schools and colleges across the U.S. met in Cary on a beautiful morning, Sat., Oct. 4, and competed against each other as well as the 5k course. Results from the meet can be found on the Great American website.

Here are some photos from race morning. Click the photos to zoom in.

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Great American XC 5

Great American XC 3

Great American XC 8All photos are courtesy of the Great Raleigh Sports Alliance. You can follow GRSA on Twitter at @raleighncsports and Instagram at @raleighncsports. There’s more cross country happening in Greater Raleigh this fall and you can see a schedule of sports events at

achorusline headerNorth Carolina Theatre and 31 Days of Art are privileged to bring you A Chorus Line, winner of nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. This beloved production is a stunning musical-vérité about a chorus audition for a Broadway show. It’s a brilliantly complex fusion of dance, song and compellingly authentic drama–telling the achingly poignant ambitions of professional Broadway gypsies to land a job in the show. As such, it’s a powerful metaphor for all human aspiration and a celebration of the American musical, itself.

MitziHamilton ACL archiveNorth Carolina Theatre, a non-profit professional regional theatre producing professional Broadway musical revivals, is thrilled to call Mitzi Hamilton (pictured above) the director and choreographer of its first production of the season. Hamilton is an original London cast member of A Chorus Line and the woman whose story was the inspiration for the character of “Val.”

This classic tale centers on 17 Broadway dancers and travels through the audition process as they describe the events that shaped their lives and they come face-to-face with the reality of a career in show business. Memorable musical numbers include “What I Did for Love,” “One (Singular Sensation),” and “I Hope I Get It.”

10635965_10154678789620187_3999987273617023195_nNorth Carolina Theatre brings a diverse cast with versatile backgrounds to the stage. Jessica Lee Goldyn, Nathaniel Shaw, Tito Hernandez and Ashley Adamek headline.

A Chorus Line is part of the North Carolina Theatre’s 2014-15 season. Catch the sensation at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Oct. 14-19. It’s all for you during Greater Raleigh’s #31DaysOfArt. For more information, click here.

Written by Creative Genius Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

Second photo, credit: Mitzi Hamilton
Third photo, credit: Curtis Brown Photography

CAMTake a ride into Greater Raleigh and explore October’s 31 Days of Art! Design your own artful weekend, starting with the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM Raleigh) as they present Limited Visibility, an exhibition of photography, sculpture, mixed media, video and installation works by the leading Latin American contemporary artists working today.

This exhibit includes a selection of works from the collection of Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer, in addition to other leading artists from Latin America. Voluntary omission, erasure, withholding and concealment: these are the methods employed by the artists in order to draw attention to that which is missing. Representations of absence, such as the missing object of labor in Allora and Calzadilla’s sandpaper composition or the cutouts in Jose Davila’s photographs, play a key role in this exhibition as they determine, border and define the void they surround. What we see in these images, paintings and installations is what is not there: each work absents presence and presents something absent. Seer, seen and unseen come together to evoke the haunted sensation of searching and looking.

Laura-Belém-Temple-of-One-Thousand-Bells-03Though the aims of each of the works in this exhibit are different, the artists each draw our attention to the omitted, giving it a kind of determination or persistence that is hard to ignore.

Click for more information.

Also at CAM Raleigh: the So & So Poetry Series. So and So is a Raleigh-based reading series and magazine curated by Chris Tonelli. The series began in Boston, Mass., in 2006 and moved to Raleigh in 2008. Featuring both local and national poets, So & So has hosted more than 300 readers, including Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners.

In order to connect more fully with Raleigh’s arts community, So & So has partnered with CAM Raleigh for the 2014 season. Poets will be responding to pieces of their choosing in whatever exhibit is being shown at the time of their reading. The hope is that this will launch a dialogue between the poets and artists, and may even lead to interesting and exciting collaborations.

The Oct. 9 event will feature poets Adam Clay, Ada Limon, Douglas Piccinnini and Michael Robins. Click for more information.

clay2 limon2 piccinnini RobinsLocated at 409 W. Martin St., CAM Raleigh seeks to curate the most contemporary works of art and design possible–those still emerging, growing and living. They hope to spark new thinking by creating ever-changing experiences that explore what’s now and nearing. How will they inspire you? #31DaysOfArt

Written by Creative Genius Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

Second photo in blog photo credit:
Laura Belém, Temple of One Thousand Bells, 2010, Installation
Photo: Alex Walkowicz

Nature lovers will enjoy spending time at Crowder District Park in Apex. This is one of my favorite parks in Greater Raleigh because it has wonderful playgrounds for the children, family environmental programs and easy walking trails that are perfect for the beginner hiker.

Crowder Park 4Crowder Park has two walking trails. The first one, called the Outer Loop Trail, is about 8/10 of a mile. My son’s Cub Scout Pack uses this trail yearly as the first Cub Scout hike for the season. On this trail, walkers loop around the Bird Garden, Prairie Garden and the Shade Garden. The second trail is much shorter at 3/10 of a mile. This Inner Loop/Pond Trail takes you by Crowder Pond, the boardwalk and to the observation deck, where you can view park wildlife.

Crowder Park 1Crowder Pond is the perfect place to take in hands-on water quality educational programs. We had fun counting the turtles on our visit!

Crowder Park 2Crowder District Park consists of 33 acres of landscaped grounds and hardwood forests. There are three playgrounds, three picnic shelters, a sand volleyball court, playfield and an outdoor amphitheatre. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the park and available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is also an Eagle Scout picnic area, which is a gravel pad area with two picnic tables and small grill located between the Robin Shelter and lower restroom facilities.

With the Butterfly Garden and environmental staff on-site, the park offers many educational opportunities for children throughout the year, as well as events. For 15 years, it has hosted an annual Frog Fest. Frog Fest, is a hoppin’-good time with games, hands-on educational experiences and live music. This event is usually held in the spring.

Crowder Park 3Bring out your nature side at Crowder District Park. The park is open daily from 8am-sunset and is located at 4709 Ten Ten Rd. in Apex. Park admission is free. Some educational programs do have a small fee, and registration is required.

Follow Leigh Hines on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog.

Dracula_940x550Just in time for Halloween, 31 Days of Art is pleased to impart a haunting spin on a classic theatrical tale. Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Dracula (from the Bram Stoker classic) and Robert Weiss’s The Masque of the Red Death (from the short story by Edgar Allen Poe) are returning in a seductively beautiful (and fabulous!) production from the Carolina Ballet. Both are set to original, commissioned scores by J. Mark Scearce, played live by an intimate chamber ensemble.

Dubbed as a classic horror dripping with passion, this program originally debuted in 2010 with a News & Observer newspaper critic saying, “the new works based on the classics of the macabre emphasize the visual and the dramatic … enhanced by cutting-edge technology and original scores, both pieces are geared to audiences beyond core dance fans.”


“Stoker based his tale on the legend that arose in the mountains of Transylvania where there lived an ancient race that was repeatedly crushed by the Turks. The Transylvanians found a way to become more powerful by drinking the blood of other living things. The ultimate product was Count Dracula, who became stronger with each passing century. However, even Dracula could not invade a life unless he was ‘invited’ into it by the need of his victim. Stoker used this device to comment on the sexual repression of the Victorian Age.

The author spins his famous tale through the letters and journals of the main characters, as they struggle to understand the dark, mysterious force is that is changing their lives. I have based this adaptation on Stoker’s conceit. The tale is a classic struggle between good and evil; man versus the unknown.” -Lynne Taylor-Corbet

Dracula7-940x752-940x0The Carolina Ballet company is a premier arts organization, launched in 1997 under Weiss’s direction. It has since garnered critical praise from the national and international media, staged 80 world premiere ballets and toured internationally in China and Hungary. Weiss is the former artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet and principal dancer at New York City Ballet under the legendary George Balanchine. He programs traditional ballets by legendary masters and new works by contemporary choreographers.

Presented as part of The Carolina Ballet’s 2014-15 season at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Recurring Thurs.-Fri., Oct. 9-10, and Sat.-Sun., Oct. 11-26; $25-$68. Click for more details.

Dracula3-940x752-940x0Sink your teeth into the 31 Days of Art calendar to plan an Oct. trip to Greater Raleigh and learn more about #31DaysofArt.

Written by Creative Genius Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

687If you love the symphony, then Greater Raleigh’s 31 Days of Art has a great October for you! The North Carolina Symphony presents Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto as part of its Classical Series. Featuring Strauss: Don Juan and Strauss: Death and Transfiguration. Eugene Tzigane, conductor; Di Wu, piano. At the beautiful Meymandi Concert Hall at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Recurring daily, Oct. 24-25, 8-10pm; $18-$65. Hot Tip: Click this link and use the code 31DAYS to save more than 25 percent as a special part of Raleigh’s 31 Days of Art.

744You can also join Dr. Jonathan Kramer of North Carolina State University for a pre-concert talk: Fri. and Sat. at 7pm, Swalin Lobby, Meymandi Concert Hall.

oscarsAlso check out Friday Favorites: At the Oscars. Enjoy hits from Oscar-winning films such as Star Trek, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 2001: A Space Odyssey, West Side Story and Star Wars. William Henry Curry, resident conductor. This special daytime performance is seated by general admission and performed without intermission. Click this link and use the code 31DAYS to save more than 40 percent on advance tickets as a special part of 31 Days of Art! Tickets will also be available one hour before showtime at the concert hall. The North Carolina Symphony; Meymandi Concert Hall at Duke Energy for the Performing Arts; Oct. 17, noon; pre-concert talk at 11am. $28 general admission.

You may also enjoy the symphony’s production of Yevgeny Sudbin Plays Rachmaninoff. Featuring Shostakovich: Festive Overture; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1; and Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3. Grant Llewellyn, conductor; Yevgeny Sudbin, piano. Click this link and use the code 31DAYS to save more than 25 percent on your ticket purchase. Meymandi Concert Hall at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts; recurring daily, Oct. 3-4, 8-10pm; meet the artists, Fri. at 6:30pm (Swalin Lobby, Meymandi Concert Hall).

737470And join Dr. Jonathan Kramer of North Carolina State University for a pre-concert talk: Sat. at 7pm in the Swalin Lobby.

Click here for more deals and special offers.

Greater Raleigh’s Oct. calendar is filled with 31 days of performances, exhibits and gallery shows in a broad range of artistic disciplines, all for you. #31DaysOfArt

Written by Creative Genius Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

10384591_10152558384189367_3149141661301439576_nIn the South, bluegrass remains a staple of its rich culture. From today through Sat., Oct. 4, downtown Raleigh welcomes International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA’s) World of Bluegrass, a week-long celebration of all things twangy.

Kicking off World of Bluegrass, the Bluegrass Ramble runs today through Thurs., Oct. 2, in seven sites around Raleigh: The Architect Bar & Social House, Kings Barcade, Lincoln Theatre, The Pour House Music Hall, Raleigh Convention Center, Tir Na Nog and Vintage Church. Ticket-holders can “ramble” all over downtown, checking out a bevy of talented acts from across the nation including Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, Rebecca Frazier and Hit & Run, Newtown, The Danberrys and Garner’s own Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road. The Bluegrass Ramble shows begin at 7pm and run until well after midnight at each venue.

ramble-poster-version011377455_10151851510179367_634910898_nOn each day of the Bluegrass Ramble, Raleigh Convention Center hosts the IBMA Business Conference. This massive trade show and insider gathering covers all aspects of the musical genre. Artists, merchandisers, publicists, record labels and a host of others talk tunes and debut the latest innovations in recording technology, instruments and strategies. This year’s keynote speaker is Bela Fleck.

The Bluegrass Ramble builds up to the 25th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards at Memorial Auditorium at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, hosted by Lee Ann Womack and Jerry Douglas. Listed performers include Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Balsam Range, Del McCoury Band and The Boxcars.

2014-awards1377392_10151853656829367_437700088_n1375895_10151853822754367_1946461971_nFor those of you concerned about getting around, a complementary shuttle runs between hotels and venues over these three days. The Ramble-based shuttle operates from 4:45pm-2:45am.

But that’s just the prelude to the weekend blowout: PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass. On Fri., Oct. 3, and Sat., Oct. 4, the festival’s two main stages, Red Hat Amphitheater and Raleigh Convention Center, explode with talent. 2014 headliners include Del McCoury Band, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Yonder Mountain String Band, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby and Steep Canyon Rangers. Fri. night’s show finishes at Red Hat Amphitheater with the Wide Open Jam, featuring Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Bryan Sutton, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan.

WideOpen-poster-20141474407_10152700561574367_25411150177228156_nOn a budget but aching for some good live bluegrass? The PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass Street Fest will help you get your fix. Four professional stages, one youth stage and one dance tent line Fayetteville St. on Fri. and Sat. from noon-midnight. And it’s free. FREE.

ramble-poster-version011381986_10151855310894367_1198374962_nFree performances from Gibson Brothers, Della Mae and The Duhks. Free peformances from Blue Highway, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road and Chatham County Line. Free bluegrass from more than 85 bands, right on the streets of downtown Raleigh.

10346454_10152590211214367_2852084799719141432_nAre you excited yet? Because there’s still more.

The 2014 N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship runs concurrent with PNC Presents Wide Open Bluegrass. Between 15-20 local barbecue competitions give out prizes, and the cooked meat will be sold to the public at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle tent, located on Cabarrus St. beside the Raleigh Convention Center.

If you’re still looking for more ways to appreciate bluegrass, you can check out the inaugural IBMA Bluegrass Film Festival. Two Feature Films are set to be screened at the Business Conference, while six Festival Films will be shown during the PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass.

All told, more than 160 acts flood downtown Raleigh for the World of Bluegrass festivities. Join the party and embrace one of our country’s most impressive bluegrass festivals. It doesn’t take a Music Maniac to appreciate this special week. On the heels of Hopscotch Music Festival 2014, our great city cements itself as a musical hub to rival all others.

1375162_10151855634194367_2099675258_nVisit the official website for tickets and full event schedules (you can also see the PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass map and schedule here). For information on parking, click here. And for accommodations, events during the festival, dining and more, click here.

It’s time again for Greater Raleigh’s 31 Days of Art! The October calendar is filled with 31 days of performances, exhibits and gallery shows in a broad range of artistic disciplines.

Bluegrass_header_webIn celebration of International Bluegrass Music Association’s second World of Bluegrass and PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass in Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of History‘s case exhibit, Carolina Bluegrass: Breakdowns and Revivals, explores the roots of bluegrass music in the Carolinas. The exhibit, recurring daily through May 17, 2015 (Mon.-Sat., 9am-5pm; Sun., noon-5pm), with free admission, features promotional posters from events, album covers and television clips. The exhibit will also present rotations of instruments owned and played by North Carolina bluegrass musicians:

Aug. 29-Oct. 9: Guitar, custom-made by Carl McIntyre for Doc Watson; and banjo played by Earl Scruggs.

Oct. 9-Nov. 13: Guitar, Martin D-28, played by Rodney Dillard; and banjo, made by Ome Banjos, custom-made for Beverly Cotten-Dillard.

Nov. 13-Dec. 18: Fiddle, played by Bobby Hicks during his time with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.

DocWatson_KT           Gibson "Flint Hill Special" Mastertone banjo associated with Earl Scruggs.           Watson guitarDec. 18, 2014-Jan. 22, 2015: Banjo, made by Vega; this tenor banjo was played by Arthur Smith while composing and recording “Feudin’ Banjos” in 1955.

Jan. 22-Mar. 5: Mandolin, custom-made for Curly Seckler; this mandolin was used during Seckler’s time with Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass.

Mar. 5-Apr. 9: Banjo, made by Bud Soesby ca. 1970, played by David Holt; the banjo is signed by numerous musicians.

Apr. 9-May 17: Banjo, made by Gibson Guitar Corporation; this Earl Scruggs Standard Banjo is a faithful re-creation of Scruggs’s 1930 Granada model.

Complementing this exhibit are these live music events: New Deal String Band Special Reunion Concert, Oct. 1, 5-7pm; and PineCone Bluegrass Jam, Oct. 2, 5-7pm.

litmusThe Wide Open Bluegrass Art Show 2014 is sponsored by the Litmus Gallery & Studios in downtown Raleigh (just across the street from the Red Hat Amphitheater) and the Raleigh Sculpture Group. Litmus features artists each month, and studio artists have their works on display and studios open for touring. Paintings, pottery, mixed media art, drawings/sketches and sculptures are some of the art forms available for viewing and purchase. The Bluegrass Art Show will showcase 2D and 3D artwork from 35+ artists, with more than 75 works of art relating to the theme of bluegrass. Recurring daily; see times and more information here.

HRMPCORMuseumEntranceAnd the City of Raleigh Museum (COR Museum) hosts Face of Folk: 30 Years of PineCone. Housed in a historic former hardware store, the COR Museum is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of N.C.’s capital city while envisioning its future. It curates temporary and permanent exhibits about the city’s people, places and resources while maintaining a collection of approximately 5,000 artifacts, offering educational programs and tours. The Face of Folk exhibit, celebrating the 30th anniversary of PineCone, Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, recurs weekly; see times and more information here.

All part of #31DaysOfArt in Greater Raleigh!

Written by Creative Genius Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

Photo credit: Litmus Gallery & Studios: Litmus Gallery & Studios Facebook Page

Greater Raleigh is home to master baker Lionel Vatinet, a national cookbook author, extraordinary teacher and owner of the prestigious La Farm Bakery in Cary, N.C.

La Farm Bakery owner Lionel VatinetWe’ve written about La Farm Bakery before because it’s just that special and unique. It’s the place where I go when I want to experience a little bit of France in the South.

I sat down with Lionel Vatinet earlier this year to interview him for an article I was writing on the success of his new cookbook, “Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker.”

La Farm Master Baker Lionel Vatinet's Cookbook Vatinet not only excels as a master baker, but he has a true passion for teaching others his craft. It’s quite evident when you meet him that he truly enjoys sharing his knowledge and helping at-home bakers experience the same joy that he has in the kitchen.

In between his time of fulfilling wholesale bakery orders, managing a café, presenting and speaking at national food shows, it’s important for Vatinet to follow his passion as an educator. Despite his hectic schedule, he keeps his calendar open for his La Farm Bakery baking classes. Sometimes classes are even held in his own home.

LaFarm Irish Soda BreadVatinet offers classes on the art of making country breads, whole grain breads, holiday flat bread, challah and rustic French bread pastries. His café chef Gary Wood also teaches classes on how to make some of the great entrees that La Farm serves guests in the bakery café, such as its classic French Onion Soup.

For beer lovers, Lionel will discuss this Nov. how he incorporates beer into the dough of his favorite breads.

Also, in late fall, Vatinet will be handing over his classroom to guest bakers. When Vatinet and I chatted earlier this year, he told me that he has been so pleased with the way that Southerners have embraced his French breads in his bakery, but he knows they are still quite fond of good ol’ Southern biscuits. He says he’s quite fond of them, too.

This Nov., he’ll welcome to his classroom Southern cookbook author Belinda Ellis, who is the expert in making the perfect Southern biscuit.

La Farm Bakery in Greater Raleigh For a complete listing of La Farm’s baking classes, visit the La Farm website.

La Farm Bakery is open daily and is located in the Preston Corners Shopping Center at 4248 Cary Pkwy.

Follow Leigh Hines on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog.

10561749_706321976088751_8725344352360511920_nHead to Koka Booth Amphitheatre and Symphony Lake for the 1st Annual Dragon Boat Festival! Both the race and accompanying festival started more than 2,000 years ago in southern Mainland China. Brought to you locally by Asian Focus, the Pan American Dragon Boat Association and the Board of the Carolinas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce (CAACC), this event is designed as a day of community-based recreation that promotes team-building, wellness and cultural awareness. Previous years have boasted more than 7,000 visitors.

10524353_706378402749775_1675853464756262278_nThe Dragon Boat Festival is popular across the country, and is an opportunity to bring people together, watch races from club and community teams, experience various food and performances and enjoy a fun cultural experience. The festival title–in Chinese, “Duanwu Jie”–translates to the Double Fifth Festival which is derived from being celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese calendar (the lunar calendar), commonly known as the Summer Solstice.

The team sport of dragon boat racing consists of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steers person paddling to cross the finish faster than the competition. The paddlers work in unison to a drummer’s beat in a long, narrow boat decorated at bow and stern with a dragon’s head and tail. The event encompasses the elements of power, speed, synchronization and endurance. Twelve local teams have entered the competition and welcome you to cheer them on: N.C. Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce Top Fast, Grand Asia Market RTP Community Team, North Carolina State University, CDBA, TACAS, Healing Dragons, Merck Dragon Boat Team, RCLS, HEALING DRAGONS OF LAKE JAMES, TAA-NC, Koka Cruisers and Raleigh Relentless.

10384919_706378079416474_2999066948654964110_nThe day will include cultural performances (music, dance, sports, fashion), a variety of food/drink, as well as exhibits. There will also be informational vendor booths set up on site.

The festival itself runs from 9am-4:30pm on Sat., Sept. 27, while the boat race will take place between 9:30am-4pm. Races will continue throughout the day. Admission is free; blankets, lawn chairs and bottled water are allowed. No picnics are permitted as the festival will feature a variety of international cuisine for purchase. Venue-owned parking is offered at no charge.

Written by Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

Photo credits: Dragon Boat Festival in the Greater Triangle Area Facebook Page


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