LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Arts Council turned one of the city’s loveliest streets into an open-air arts bazaar Saturday for the third annual Arts on Elm festival.
Splendid weather brought out an estimated 1,000 people who bought arts and crafts, listened to music, and ate Darel’s Bakery and Café’s croissants filled with sweets and barbecue sliders.
“It’s going great,” said Mary Ann Masters, who has directed all three events as president of the Arts Council. “The changes made from last year seemed to be working.
“People seem to like having the vendors on the street this time and the music in the middle of the event, so everyone can hear it.”
Elm Street resident Richard Monroe, Rediscover Downtown Lumberton president, agreed the annual event is a success.
“This is wonderful. Living right here, this is a neighborhood event that showcases one of Lumberton’s great downtown neighborhoods,” Monroe said. “There is so much talent in Robeson County that needs to be seen and heard.”
Two newcomers to Arts on Elm showed off their glassmaking talents. Randy Rust, a longtime Lumberton resident and businessman, and Elizabeth Blair, who is a first-year professor in The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Music Department, were popular stops for shoppers and art lovers.
“I make fused glass jewelry when I’m not teaching church music at the university,” Blair said. “We’ve done well today.”
Randy Rust also fuses glass to make bowls, plates, stained-glass windows and other objects.
“I’ve been working with glass since I retired,” Rust said. “I won first prize at the Robeson County fair with this one.”
Mark Andersen bought that award-winning bowl just before performing on the harp as part of the music program. Lakota John and Kin finished out the day with some rousing New Orleans-inspired blues.
Some of the artists, such as Blair and Kay Bradsher, created art on the scene as spectators watched. Blair made a silver-wire tree of life, which she sold, and Bradsher painted the irises in bloom in Dencie Lambdin’s Elm Street yard.
“I’m enjoying it,” Bradsher said. “I have the best seat in the house across the street from the music and right next to these irises.”
Perhaps the happiest visitors to Arts on Elm were not visitors. Linda Hedgpeth, who lives on Elm, sat on her porch with Helen Odom behind a veil of hand-painted scarves by artist Penny Holland, of Burlington.
“Yes, we’re having a great time,” Hedgpeth said.
The pair chatted with friends and visitors and watched Holland paint small-scale watercolors.
“I retired from Apple, and have been painting like mad ever since,” Holland said.
When it was all over, Masters and Arts Council members Marion Thompson and Vanessa Abernathy brainstormed the next Arts on Elm and other future events. Arts on Elm is one of the Council’s signature events.
“We believe this will be a permanent fixture for Lumberton and the Arts Council,” Masters said. “The city has been very gracious, and it’s a fun event.”
After 11 years as president of the Arts Council, Masters is stepping down this year, but she will not disappear.
“As immediate past president, I won’t be far away,” she said. “There is plenty of work to be done.”
Staff writer Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 of [email protected]