By: Penny Byrd
Photos By: Geoff & Penny Byrd photos
For 22 years, Our State Magazine has been conducting weekend getaways to celebrate North Carolina’s music, history, humor, storytelling, art, and food. We had let at least eight years go by before again revisiting Pinehurst the first weekend in January 2020. We stayed at the freshly revamped Manor Inn, about a two-block walk from the Carolina Hotel where all the programs were held. After checking in with Our State to get our name tags and “goody bag,” we visited the Marketplace comprising NC vendors with everything from moon-shine and whiskey to BBQ sauce, to model boats, to one-of-a-kind birdhouses, and more…plus The Poetry Fox. Just give him one word and he creates a poem on a portable typewriter (like the one you took to college 50+ years ago)…all while you wait.
After hearing two Our State presenters, we headed to Pinehurst Brewing just a half block behind our hotel. Recently opened in a refurbished steam plant, the brewery also has a smokehouse—no need to say more. That evening we were treated to the joy and spirit of old-time mountain music and stories. My favorite was a tune played on paper bags. Performers were four-time Grammy winner David Holt and Grammy nominee Josh Goforth who provided wonderful songs and stories. We ended the night with an ice cream sundae social.
On Saturday after breakfast our first treat was Dr. Elliot Engel, a humorist, historian, and stand-up scholar who shared the life story of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz. After a brief break we heard from Karen Amspacher, Harker Islander and Director of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, about living at the water’s edge in the many communities faced with either staying or going. Then Dr. Anthony Atala spoke about regenerative medicine research at Wake Forest. After lunch we heard from a lovely young woman, Kristy Woodson Harvey. She barely looks 30 and has already authored five novels, with an offer on the table for a television series. She’s quite glib, so it’s not hard to imagine how she has written so fast. She was followed by Dr. Connie L. Book, president of Elon University. That evening we dined on fish and filet mignon and wrapped up the night with the renowned Raleigh Ringers. Personally, I’ve never seen hand bells that big.
They provided several “classical” arrangements and then Freddie Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody. For this Queen song, they donned tie-dyed t-shirts and the conductor put on a flame jacket and a ball cap with an attached wig that hung to his waist. For their “one more please” they performed the Flight of the Bumblebee. Everyone put on black and yellow striped gloves, the conductor had a striped wand, and one player donned a white daisy-petal headband. Close to the end, one ringer slipped on a beekeepers jacket, and after the final ring he got slapped on the head from both sides with flyswatters. Wonderful! After a second delicious breakfast buffet (sit at a big table with people you don’t know – it’s fun!), we were patriotically entertained by USO performers from New York City. Did you know that our NC USO, founded in 1941, serves the fourth largest military population in the US?
Pinehurst is a wonderful, very walkable village and this time around we made time to visit the Tufts Archives containing the history of Pinehurst since its founding in 1895 by soda fountain magnate James Walker Tufts. Just a few years after that, Pinehurst was “enhanced” by Donald James Ross who designed the Pinehurst courses as well as over 400 in total throughout the U.S., Canada, and even Cuba. The archives also house an extensive collection of golf reference books.
Looking back on this very enjoyable weekend we would definitely do it again, but a LOT sooner than another eight years. Our State now has a travel club with many other interesting trips planned – www.ourstatetravelclub.com – and we’re going on an-other one in April!