“I remember the lumber yards and the trucking companies, and many, many farmers. My dad had the Gulf gas station here in Norman. At one time, the train came through here. Norman was a booming little town in the day,” Broadway recalls.
He knows it’s not booming now, but he wants to bring the region together there on Oct. 9 for a community event.
Broadway was asked to organize the event from the ground up.
“The town met and said they wanted to have a Norman Fest, then I got patted on the back and they said ‘we’ll be here if you need anything.’” Broadway said.
Broadway was born in Norman, but moved away when he was about two. Three years ago, after nearly 50 years away, he returned and admits there isn’t much to see.
On Aug. 23, the first festival meeting was held at the Norman Town Hall. The Festival Committee is comprised of eight members. While debating a theme for the fest, they examined other towns and their fests, such as the Candor Peach Fest. The theme had to come from something Norman has in abundance. Gnats came to mind, and became a humorous acronym that stood for Good Neighbors Around Town.
Broadway is anxious to see people in the streets again, and believes it can be done, if not just for one day. He has organized music, food and attractions.
“People can get hot-dogs, barbecue, cotton candy and candied apples, funnel cake,” Broadway said. He said there’s room for more vendors. Among vendors who have already signed up to participate are woodcrafters, people displaying and selling pottery, face-painting, balloons, a clothing ministry, fire and rescue squads, music and an evening auction.
Anyone interested in setting up a booth or performing at the event is encouraged to contact Broadway.
Broadway also hopes to gain attention to the plight of Taylor Stewart, a Norman girl, who was diagnosed with Leukemia this month.
The festival is set for 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. The event will feature live performances from the Sand Band, which plays beach music; the Angel Airs, which play gospel; and Fortress, the Glenwood Methodist Contemporary Christians. Sound will be provided by SA Pro Audio.
“If you can shag, come dance,” said Broadway.
Richmond County storyteller J.A. Bolton will perform at the Norman Fest, in the afternoon once the Sand Band has performed.
Though some storytellers prefer to spin the story as they go, Bolton likes to perform stories he’s written, and will add or leave out details depending on his audience and the time available. Some details in his story are from real life.
“It’s a good family-type thing,” he said. “To be a good storyteller you have to be able to stand in front of a crowd and catch their attention.”
Bolton said he sometimes starts with a joke, and spins the story from there once he’s captured his audience.
He attends the Storytelling Arts Center of the Southeast in Laurinburg, and every third Monday the Story Spinners Storytelling Guild meets. These meetings allow storytellers to practice and receive advice or criticism.
“Most people have their own style. Everybody is different; that’s what’s so fun about it,” said Bolton. He gained experience earlier this year by teaching children’s Bible school.
“You can tell children’s stories to adults, but you can’t tell adult stories to children. You have to get on their level,” he said. He’s careful to target his audience. He’s been saving a Civil War ghost story for the fall.
Bolton travels around North Carolina to different storytelling events and competitions. He said the North Carolina mountains are the hot spot for storytelling, especially since the tradition began there with Grandfather and Jack tales that came with European settlers and spread over the years.
Bolton wishes Richmond County had a forum for storytellers, and hopes to establish one soon.
Jackson Springs resident and Shetland Sheepdog breeder Jane Bright will bring her dogs to perform an agility show, during which she will have her dogs run through an obstacle course. Bright recently starred on Survivor.
Norman was first incorporated as a municipality in 1913. At the site of Norman, in the 1770s, another small village stood there by the name of Sprawl’s Old Field, which gained its name from a nearby field which was used as a drilling ground by the American Forces in training for the Revolutionary War. Once the municipality was established and lumber companies moved in, Norman grew.
For many years the lumber mills operated on a large scale, but three fires from 1940 to 1957 forced the mills to close, and legislative action had the town charter revoked.
Broadway still seeks sponsorships for T-shirts and items for auctioning.
For more information on reserving a free booth or donating items to be auctioned off, contact Broadway at 910-220-5835.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 997-3111 ext. 15.