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Yearlong “Arts & Ag” celebration begins with Gold Hill event in April

For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — Weekend entertainment to promote Rowan County arts and agriculture are planned throughout the year, providing an opportunity to “Be an Original” through Arts & Ag.

This year’s Arts & Ag celebration begins in April and continues each month through November at locations throughout the county for both visitors and residents alike. Arts & Ag planners have released a schedule of events. Many of them offer free admission, but some are ticketed.

The combination of ag and art offers the community an opportunity to support homegrown creativity and flavors. It will help educate residents on the flourishing arts community here, as well as the important economic contribution of agriculture to the county, according to Michelle Patterson of Patterson Farm Market and Tours.

Local artists, craftsmen and vendors may request space at events online at rowanartsandag.com, “Exhibit Your Work.”

Edward Norvell, chairman of the Rowan Arts Council and a board member of the Rowan County Tourism Authority, said the community “is rich with arts and culture with four colleges, two major theater groups, an outstanding symphony, a nationally accredited art gallery and two outstanding historic preservation groups with properties from Salisbury to Granite Quarry and China Grove and, of course, our outstanding transportation history museum.”

“Just in downtown Salisbury, there are three theaters with over 760 theater seats, three museums, Railwalk and the Waterworks Art Gallery,” Norvell said. “When we think of the arts in Rowan, we think of Salisbury, but much of our art is inspired by our beautiful Rowan County landscapes and produced by Rowan County residents. With the marriage of arts and agriculture, we plan to bring the arts to the county, music, painting, drawing, theater, sculpture so it can be enjoyed by all of our citizens and hopefully attract some visitors, too.”

Norvell referred to the successful monthlong Ag & Arts Tour in 11 Upstate South Carolina counties. Billed as “homegrown and homemade,” it is the nation’s largest free farm tour featuring local artisans. The Rowan committee is working with the South Carolina group, composed of Clemson University Extension and tourism officials.

“We saw an example of this in South Carolina and were excited about the possibilities to bring visitors to our county,” Norvell said.

The Rowan Arts & Ag Tour plans include the organization of tours, as well as support of existing events. The schedule includes:

• Kickoff, N.C. Beer Festival Month at historic Gold Hill Park and Gold Hill Village, April 7. The craft beer festival will feature Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery & Eatery and New Sarum Brewing Co., both of Salisbury, and Carolina Malt House of Cleveland, supplier of custom malts from grain grown in the Carolinas. Artisans and vendors will display hand-crafted items and sell their wares. It will include bands on two stages performing “NewGrass” music, food trucks and a kids’ area with bounce houses and strolling entertainers.

• An Arts and Ag display at the North Carolina Transportation Museum’s Tractors & Trains Festival, April 13-14. The festival will expand this year to include a stage and band, artisans and vendors.

• A Spring Farm-to-Table event at Patterson Farm Market and Tours, May 12, featuring a chef preparing a five-course meal from locally sourced ingredients, local breweries and wineries with samples, and performances by the Salisbury Symphony. Tickets will be available online at rowanartsandag.com.

• A weekend tour of selected farms with artists displaying their wares. The Arts and Ag Farm Tour will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 2 and 1-5 p.m. June 3. Participating farms and artists will be announced in April. The Ag Committee of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce is working with the Rowan County Extension Service on the tour. It will give residents a chance to see first-hand where their food comes from, learn more about farm life and purchase farm products, as well as visit with artists and purchase from them. With 40 plus farms in Rowan County, agriculture is the county’s second-largest economy, according to Amy–Lynn Albertson, Rowan County Extension director.

• An Arts and Ag display at the annual Pops at the Post concert by the Salisbury Symphony, June 2. The event will be expanded to include artists and kids’ activities such as face painting, bubbles, and a bounce house.

• An Arts and Ag display at Farmers Day in China Grove, July 21.

• The Choo & Brew collaborative rail event with the Transportation Museum, Aug. 11. It will feature New Sarum Brewing Co. and Morgan Ridge Railway Brewery & Eatery.

• An Arts and Ag display at the annual Woodleaf Tomato Festival, Aug. 18 at Unity Presbyterian Church, Woodleaf. The festival celebrates tomato farmers in the community.

• A Harvest Winery Tour in September featuring Salisbury Historic Trolley tours of four area wineries – Douglas Vineyards of Kannapolis, Old Stone Winery of Granite Quarry, Morgan Ridge Winery of Gold Hill, and Cauble Creek Winery off N.C. 150. The tour will include wine tastings, followed by dinner and live music with a special “Sip & Stay” overnight package offered.

• Theater at the Farm, Oct. 13-14 at Patterson Farm Market & Tours. A collaborative event between Norvell Theater and Patterson Farm Market and Tours, this event is a special “fall” production at the farm. The farm’s normal fall activities, including the corn maze, will be available before or after the production.

• Harvest Festival, November, Kannapolis Research Campus. The all-day family festival will feature a stage band, food trucks, wineries and breweries, and kids’ activities.

More details of each event will be announced as they become available during the year at www.rowanartsandag.com.

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