Reported by Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher
On the calendar, June 21 is astronomically the first day of summer, but for most people, summer starts with July 4th.
Here in North Carolina, picnics, festivals and fireworks abound. If you are looking for some of the best, here’s one to consider: Elkland Art Center’s Liberty Parade in Todd, NC.
The theme of this year’s parade is “Fan Your Flame” (of Liberty), so get ready for a hot time. Most importantly, keep in mind that this is not your typical July 4th celebration, not at all, but take a look at the slideshow and video and you’ll see this event is something special and that these people are having a blast possibly as big as any fireworks display in the state.
There are plenty of Independence Day parades with plenty of marching bands, fire trucks, and Shriners in their little cars (God love ‘em), but there are very few parades where you can join in – that right, a participatory parade where you march right along with all the others – in this case, the others being people who have made up elaborate puppets and creative, colorful props that they either become or carry.
In fact, Elkland Arts Center holds workshops starting in June before the parade to teach how to make puppets and costumes and lead people who have a vision for what they want to make or be for the parade. However, don’t fret if you don’t have a costume or puppet already made: the center provides them if you want to join in. It’s surprising how many puppet types there are. Check out this link: Puppet types.
As to the Liberty Parade, yes, you can just simply watch the parade and partake in the festivities. Food and local crafts are on sale, and if you are interested in a small town’s take on how to create a feel for community, you will find lots to do in Todd.
Todd is located in the High Country of North Carolina near Boone and West Jefferson and is a community situated in a bend of the South Fork of the New River. It was settled in the 19th century as a small crossroads community, and even though it had economic bursts, like when the Virginia-Carolina Railway announced it would lay tracks to Todd, the town has held on to its down-to-earth roots with many people farming and living a simple life others would envy.
When you visit, you’ll find shopping and eating at the Mercantile and General Store as well as outdoor adventure like tubing and kayaking down the river guided by the outfitters in the area. Yet for all of that, it’s an earnest commitment to the arts that sets Todd apart, and much of this is because of the Elkland Art Center.
There Mission statement puts it perfectly:
“Elkland Art Center’s mission is to build community while making art; using art as a means to make the world a better place. Our program areas include: (1) community parades either delivered by Elkland or we’ll mentor a community to develop their own; (2) puppet shows for schools, festivals, and libraries; (3) workshops on building community while making art; and (4) producing documentary videos on matters that are important to the community. We serve communities in the High Country of Western North Carolina, throughout the state of North Carolina and the Southeastern United States. Elkland Art Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.”
When in town, make it a point to visit the center.
The Liberty Parade is held Thursday, July Fourth. The organizers are asking that people meet at the crossroads of Highway 194 N and Railroad Grade Road in Todd. If you are going to participate, arrive early and get dressed-up from 10:30-11. Costumes provided. The parade starts at 11a m. The center promises that if you LIKE them on Facebook, you will “receive the most up-to-date updates.”
And if you happen to miss this year’s Liberty Parade yet would like to take part in another, don’t worry. Todd, NC, should consider dubbing itself “Paradeville, NC,” because several are held throughout the year in association with the center. Check the schedule on Elkland Art Center’s website: http://elklandartcenter.org or call 336-877-5016. More info on Todd, NC, can be found here: http://toddnc.org.
Have a safe, happy and thoughtful 4th of July.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy these, and please subscribe to our columns – it’s free:
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Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern and spouse, J.S. Fletcher, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.