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Summer Reading Kick-off provides free, fun festivities

By Andie Foley
For the Salisbury Post

The Rowan County Public Library’s Summer Reading Kick-off was full of smiles and laughter despite Saturday’s bright sun and hot weather.

This annual event was held at Dan Nicholas Park, and was set in motion by the library’s Youth Services Supervisor, Jennifer Nicholson. It featured a family-oriented festival and performance by the Billy Jonas Band.

“The response today has been very positive,” Nicholson said. “People were already here at the park with their families, so they were able to stop by and enjoy what we have to offer as well.”

The Kick-Off served as a chance for the library to provide free resources to community children and parents, including books and an opportunity to register for their summer reading challenge.

This challenge is open to all ages, wherein participants may earn prizes by completing activities and logging reading hours. This year, summer reading focuses on the theme “Build a Better World,” encouraging people to explore ways of using knowledge to make the world a better place.

Festival activities included Touch a Butterfly, arts and crafts and informative booths about Friends of the Rowan County Public Library and the Little Libraries located throughout town.

“Everyone seems to be having the nicest, most relaxing time,” said Lillian Gascoigne, serving the last hour of the festival at the Friends of the Rowan County Public Library booth. She’d stepped in to relieve Sammie Hinshaw, the organization’s president.

“One boy told me he’d stayed in the butterfly hut for fifteen minutes because a butterfly wouldn’t leave his shoulder.”

Apart from interacting with butterflies, young attendees of the Kick-off also ‘upcycled’ tin cans, using the vessels to plant and grow seeds donated through the Rowan County Cooperative Extension.

Festivities would close with a performance by Billy Jonas Band, serving as a welcomed chance to cool down as afternoon temperatures neared 90 degrees.

Billy Jonas Band features Ashley Jo Farmer, a long-term Salisbury resident. However, this was the band’s first Rowan County performance.

This eclectic-sounding, self-proclaimed funky folk group entertained the audience with charming call-and-response lyrics, questions and instructions inspiring movement and imaginative thought. Many pieces incorporated “industrial re-percussion”: instruments made from found and foraged objects like a five-gallon water jug, two five-gallon buckets and a 50-gallon plastic barrel.

An appropriate choice for the day’s warm weather? The song “Weather or Not,” which encouraged listeners to seek adventure regardless of the weather forecast.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather,” sang Jonas, “just inappropriate clothes.”

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