Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Photo of the Day

"Resolved: that these united colonies are (and of a right ought to be)
free and independent states, that they are absolved
from all allegiance to the British Crown,
and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain
is (and ought to be) totally dissolved!"

- Richard Henry Lee (played by Mike Hogewood) presents
Virginia's resolution for independence to the Continental Congress
in a scene from the award-winning musical 1776

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Behind the Scenes - Part 2 - Where are the Portajohns?

When you think of Fun 4th Street Festival, I'm sure you think of the great bands, delicious food, exciting rides -- basically all the things that make you want to come to a festival. That is, of course, what we want you to think about. We don't want you to have to think about whether or not 15 minutes is enough time to change bands or whether or not that food you're eating or that ride you just put your child on is safe -- so we spend the greater part of the year worrying about that for you.

Those are the big picture things we spend a lot of time on here at Grassroots, but what we've discovered is that it is the little details that make or break a festival -- and frequently the ones that come back to bite you in the you know what. Back in 2007-2008, when we were planning the logistics for the 5 Bicentennial events -- a huge undertaking -- we became so afraid that some small, but critical detail would be overlooked, that we created a catch-phrase. I posted this phrase on my wall of Things I Need To Remember, during the Bicentennial, and it has remained there ever since, reminding us that the devil really is in the details.

Yes, you guessed it already, the phrase is "Where are the portajohns?" It's a detail that can easily be eclipsed by the big picture, but boy are we going to hear about it if we forget them. And sometimes, even if we don't forget to order them, we are held hostage by the delivery man. One year, when we were still doing Heritage Day at Blandwood as part of Fun 4th, despite the fact that we had provided a detailed map to the delivery person, the portajohns were delivered to a spot two blocks away across the very busy spot where Freeman Mill Road dumps into downtown.

So when you come to the festival, and you are dreading that moment when you will actually have to go make use of that hot portajohn, just think how it would be if we had forgotten them -- and all the other critical details that make for a seamless festival experience.

Behind the Scenes Photo of the Day: My Wall of Things I Need to Remember.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Well Oiled Machine

"Organized chaos." The constant refrain of the Grassroots office. These seem to be the only words that can be used by the staff to describe the mad dash towards, and through the Fun Fourth Festival. And these words are seemingly true. I mean, if you spend a mere five minutes with these women you may only be able to see chaos. Peggy, who will go into a bloodthirsty rage if someone sits in her chair (probably stemming from childhood issues when a neighbor girl shamefully dethroned her at a tea party), Brenda, a woman whose fascination with the paper cutter and it's "friends" is something you would expect from a schizophrenic, and Robin, who forces the delivery of chocolate macaroons to her desk with veiled threats of beatings and starvation. Truly the "chaos" seems to be the highlight of the inner workings of the festival. But I completely disagree with that.

I wholeheartedly, and with no cash incentive...
(Oh wait...I am getting paid)


I wholeheartedly, and with no emotional connection to the festival...
(Oh wait...Peggy is my mother)


I wholeheartedly, and scientifically...
(You're not a scientist)
(Shut up parenthesizes)
(I just want the public to know the facts)
(Well you're not helping)
(Not trying to help)

I believe that the Fun Fourth Festival (at least on the technical side) is anything but "chaos."
Today, I sat down for lunch with these three women and asked what else needed to be done before the festival began.
"What big things can I do?"
"Let's get ahead of schedule."
Little did I know, there was actually very little for me to do. This was due to the fact that so many different organizations were contributing to the set up and execution of his festival. One group was bringing tables, one was bringing tents, one was delivering the food, and on and on. The big picture was being built by many separate factions coming together to share the load. Everyone could do a little bit less because there were others there to help. Purely "organized."

And that's when I realized, this festival is truly a community experience, enjoyed and created by the people that live here. Organizations, businesses, volunteers, we all come together not only to share, but to create an experience together. The Well Oiled Machine, working in sync, perfectly.

Calm before the Storm

Here it is Monday morning. The office has been quiet for the last two hours as I finish some final paperwork etc. before the day begins. Within the next 45 minutes the storm will unleash.

  • The parade committee will meet in order to determine the line-up for all of the parade entries.
  • Our crew will come in to start moving and prepping equipment -- on today's list putting together our arrow signs and ticket booths. Loading up our "Units Mobile Storage" with tents, coolers, stools, hoses, extension cords....all of the equipment needed to make the Fourth happen
  • Our Interns, Carissa and Stephanie, will be finalizing prizes for Contest Corner and then of course the favorite intern tablecloths.
  • Owen & Sandra, our extra helpers this week will be organizing stuff that came back from the race, putting together sponsor kits and all of the other random stuff that is on my list!
  • Add in to that the phone that doesn't stop ringing ( there are no more vendor spaces available!!).
  • The door bell that keeps going with deliveries and pick-ups and the emails that need to be answered!!
  • Welcome to the craziness of Fun Fourth Festival!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Zumba Sam

Early in the morning on Saturday, June 26th over 500 walkers and runners came to Downtown Greensboro to participate in the Freedom Run & Walk. Many Thanks to all of the great volunteers and staff that helped put the event together. Race Results are posted here.

Uncle Sam is warming up with the kids for the Tot Trot! Thanks to Dawn Rembisz Lloyd for leading the Zumba warm up for the tots, the adults and Uncle Sam!!

Join us for the other Fun Fourth Festival events you never know what you'll catch Uncle Sam doing!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fun 4th Picture of the Day

A new daily series of photos from Fun 4th, past and present.

June 27, 2009, Downtown Greensboro
The start of the 2009 10K Freedom Run

We hope you'll join us tomorrow morning for this year's race! Check out our website for more details!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Craftscene Spotlight: Nyla Elise Clothing (in haiku form)

The Craftscene at the street festival on Saturday July 3rd is packed this year with over 100 artist, crafters and vendors selling a huge variety of unique things. You'll be amazed at what you'll find.  Take for instance Nyla Elise Fashions. This uber hip clothing company out of Raleigh will be on site with their super cool, urban-chic clothing line. Be the envy of all your friends with these hot fashions, check out the Nyla Elise booth at the Craftscene or online at

Here's your Haiku!!------->

hot summer fashion
try Nyla Elise clothing
FunFourth has it all

Behind the Scenes

When you come to any of the Fun 4th Festival events, we hope that each event appears effortless, almost as though it has happened by magic. That's the way all good parties should seem. If you've ever hosted a big party, though, you know that's all an illusion.

We're hosting four parties that we call the Fun 4th Festival, for a total of about 100,000 of our closest friends. There's nothing we like better than to see all your smiling faces each year, enjoying all that these parties have to offer. And we hope it seems to you like we've thrown it all together with ease and grace.

This is our 36th Fun 4th so we've been doing this for awhile. Throughout the years, a few things have changed about the Festival, but one thing that hasn't is our dependence on volunteers and staff that we never see except at Fun 4th time. Basically, we have a skeleton staff that operates our little non-profit throughout the year, but come Fun 4th time, our small suite of offices fills with scores of people that we generally only see once a year. Fun 4th Fun Factoid: it takes about 1,000 volunteers to put on the Fun 4th each year. Behind the Scenes note: there are hundreds of them I never even see -- crazy, right?

I'm always excited to see our returning volunteers and crew, to find out what has happened in their lives over the past year, to hear about new jobs, marriages, babies -- the joys and sorrows that are natural to share with folks you spend an intense week with each year. Our little staff spends so much insulated time together, focused on the minutiae of the Festival, that we sometimes forget the FUN part of Fun 4th. Every year, with the influx of all these great people, there comes a new energy that buoys us into the home stretch. I can't say that all the last minute frustrations go away or that you won't hear the sounds of rampant aggravation in our office, but I will say, this time of year, you will also hear the hum of catching-up conversation and getting-to-know-you stories of new found friends. And laughter, you can hear lots and lots of laughter. Hey, it is FUN 4th, after all -- right?!

For all of you who like a good spoiler to your story or a behind-the-scenes look, though, this one's for you. I'll be posting some pictures of our offices over the next few days of prep time. It kind of looks like someone has puked red, white and blue chaos all over the place right now, but like all good hosts, we'll be ready for you when you get to the Festival. First up -- we're T minus 2 days to the Freedom Run & Walk so here's a look at what we're up to. Holy Moley -- I'd better get back to work!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fun Fourth Haiku

Run For Freedom's Sake

Hot, Steamy Morning
Freedom, Which course do I choose?
Walk 2 or Run 10

The Fun Fourth Freedom Run is on Saturday, June 26th. Join us in walking or running in honor of members of the military past and present.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Return of the Haiku

Last year we started the Fun Fourth Festival Haiku (俳句) of the Day. Every day we posted a new Haiku....written by staff, by friends, by strangers.

Here is Jack Kerouac reading "American Haiku"

American Haiku (Copyright 1959)

"The American Haiku is not exactly the Japanese Haiku. The Japanese Haiku is strictly disciplined to seventeen syllables but since the language structure is different I don't think American Haikus (short three-line poems intended to be completely packed with Void of Whole) should worry about syllables because American speech is something again...bursting to pop.

Above all, a Haiku must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and make a little picture and yet be as airy and graceful as a Vivaldi Pastorella."

Jack Kerouac - 1922-1969

We've decided it's time to bring it back! So...join us! Send us your Haiku or two and we'll post them on our blog, on facebook and on twitter. Come on, you know you want to!

Email your Haiku to

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's a Party!

The Fun Fourth Festival Kick-Off Block Party helps to pay for the very needed but very unglamorous items for the Street Festival -- port-a-johns, insurance and trash crew! All things that all good events need. In fact the poster in our office says"Where are the Port-a-Johns?" Because no matter how hard you try...sometimes the port-a-john delivery folks just don't get them in the correct spot.

But I digress, back to the Block Party. This year we will start at 7:15pm with some Classic Beach tunes from The Extraordinaires -- make sure you bring your dancing shoes because it will be Classic Beach from start to finish. At 9:15pm Nantucket will take the stage to keep the party going!

Bring your money for your beer and your raffle tickets! You could win the 50/50 raffle (another way to raise money for the port-a-johns!)

Hey, and while you're at it bring a canned good or two to donate to the Urban Ministry Food Bank. Its all for a good cause -- plus it will be a great time!! Hope to see you there!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Craftscene Spotlight: Chris Bettini-Handmade Chainmaille jewelry

Chris started creating jewelry in 2004 when her boyfriend, Ted, introduced her to the art of Chainmaille. They had stopped by a little shop in Helen, GA that sold Chainmaille Armor. Ted made a comment about wanting a chainmaille bracelet, so upon returning home,  Chris set out on a journey to find everything she'd need to make one. From that moment on, she was hooked, and it's been non-stop ever since.

  Chris creates chainmaille in Sterling Silver, Argentium Silver, Gold Filled, Rose Gold Filled, Brass and Stainless Steel and designs some jewelry using Semi Precious Stones and hand crafted Polymer Clay or Lampwork beads.

You can find Chris's beautiful and intricate creations at the Funfourth Street Festival on Saturday July 3rd and also on Handmade Triad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Art Can!

A new Fun Fourth Festival attraction, Art Can! is sponsored by the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro, to create a temporary public art installation made of canned foods items.

Architects Shermin Ata of Shermin Ata Architects with Micah Martin and Emily Hinton of Moser Mayer Phoenix Architects have joined forces to design a U.S. Flag public art installation constructed out of Campbell Soup cans.

On July 3rd, Fun Fourth attendees will be able to watch the installation as well as construct their own designs made out of donated canned goods.

"We're pleased to bring our creative community together to help stock and replenish the Greensboro Urban Ministry Food Bank at a time when folks generally aren't thinking about feeding the hungry. It's a wonderful example of how Art Can! make a difference," said UAC Interim President and CEO Altina Layman.

Want to help? Canned food donations will be accepted for the project at:
  • the Freedom Run and Walk on June 26th
  • 1776 performances at the Carolina Theatre on July 1st, 2nd and 4th
  • the Kickoff Block Party on July 2nd.
  • Parade and Street Festival on Saturday, July 3rd
  • News & Record Pops Concert and Gate City Fireworks, July 4th
Canned goods may also be dropped off at:
  • The Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene
  • Action Greensboro, 317 S. Elm
  • Cultural Arts Center, 200 N. Davie
So, as you're out and about enjoying all of the Fun Fourth activities, take a moment and bring us some canned goods -- its for a great cause!! You will be amazed at what Art Can! achieve.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Big Fat Gap

Back porch bluegrass band Big Fat Gap has no plans to take Nashville by storm. Some of them even have day jobs. They just like to pick, they like each other, and it shows. Their shows are known to be excellent for those who enjoy sweet three part harmonies, smoking solos, and captivating stage dynamics. Their fun performances bring loyal fans back for more.

They got their name from one
of the few remaining stands of old growth virgin forest in western North Carolina located in the Big Fat Gap in Graham County near the Tennessee border. They are Miles Andrews on lead vocals and Bass, Rick Hauchman on mandolin & vocals, Andy Thorn on banjo, Bobby Britt on fiddle and Jamie Griggs on Guitar.

Learn more about the band on their website or take a listen to them on Myspace!

If you like what you hear, come on down to the Fun Fourth Festival and see them perform. Saturday, July 3, 3pm on Stage 1. It'll be hot ... bring your beer money!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

lemonade wishes and funnel cake dreams

Looking through the Fun Fourth Food Vendor Info notebook when I haven't had any lunch is a bad idea. I am now craving roasted corn and funnel cake and a steak and cheese sandwich - and ooooh, maybe a corn dog and some onion rings and then some Italian ice, washed down with some fresh-squeezed lemonade.

Unfortunately, getting all of these things today would probably involve an hours-long scavenger hunt around Greensboro. So I'll just have to be patient, and wait until Fun Fourth, when every single thing I just mentioned (and more, so much more!) will be available within a two block radius. I may or not be counting down the days until July 3rd.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

We Need You!

"Why Volunteer?

Part of being a great volunteer is loving what you're doing. Find something that you're passionate about or something that inspires you, and then find a need in your community."
More here.

Volunteers -- make the events of the Fun Fourth Festival happen!

From the volunteers on the Freedom Run Course who make sure runners are hydrated to the volunteers who portray Uncle Sam to the volunteers with the Greensboro Concert Band and Philharmonia who perform the 1812 Overture with the fireworks -- we are grateful to all of our volunteers!

As you can imagine..we always need more volunteers...selling tickets, helping kids on and off the big slide, marching in the Parade with our Junk Jam Group, feeding the volunteers, collecting cans for Urban Ministry, helping with arts & crafts, beer sales, souvenir name it we have it all!! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer -- look at this or give us a call 336.274.4595!

We need you!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Confessions of a Summer Intern

Here I am at the beginning of my fourth week at Grassroots Productions Ltd. as a summer intern!! I have gotten a fairly good idea of what goes on around here and have had the pleasure of working with a fine group of ladies!( My very FIRST all-female, work environment, mind you.) This is quite the change for me, having been in several co-ed positions in my past jobs and trying to fight my collegiate-boy crazyness. No more extreme primping before work or major outfit-adjusting throughout the day in hopes that my “work crush” will be scheduled along side me. Just a friendly, low-stress, girl power work place, which turns out, suits me just fine! In my few weeks here, interspersed with the errand-running, letter-stuffing, letter-labeling, and trudging up and down Elm Street, have been some very valuable lessons, which I would like to share with you here!

1. Having a key made is not quite as easy as it looks.

2. Even your most reliable pair of comfortable flip flops will give you a fierce blister given the right weather conditions.

3. Mr. Cone has a very eclectic taste in music, including the musical stylings of Rabbe Soul.

4. Letter-stuffing and labeling, although unfortunately monotonous and slightly boring, is so crucial to getting the word out about Grassroots’ events.

5. Although a beautiful shoe, the Navajo Jack Rogers sandal, should not be worn when walking distances longer than 2 blocks.

6. Grassroots could not function without its amazing volunteers who work so hard to make the Fun Fourth Festival a success.

7. Making an easily-spinning pinwheel out of construction paper and a drinking straw is a lot harder than you’d think!

8. The Fun Fourth Festival is actually on the THIRD this year!

9. Canned foods can be sculpted into really amazing works of art. Everyone will get to see this in action at our Art Can! exhibit at the Fun Fourth Festival.

10. There are a lot of hidden treasure in downtown Greensboro that I am slowly discovering as my time at Grassroots continues (including Simple Kneads… yummm!).

These are just a few of the many lessons to come during my time as a summer intern. Hopefully I will do UNCG proud and be one step closer to that degree and becoming a member of the “real world”. I’m sure that in the following weeks leading up to the Festival I will have even more valuable lessons to share. Until then, if you spot me and Carissa running up and down Elm Street, stop us and say hi!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Craftscene Spotlight: Harp Guitar Guy - Andy Wahlberg

I am so excited to welcome Andy Wahlberg to the FunFourth Craftscene. This guy is AMAZING!!! Watch him play the unique Harp Guitar and pick up a copy of his latest CD. Check out the video below to get a taste of his great talent and visit his website at be sure to come to the FunFourth Festival on July 3rd to see him in person!!  This is a do not miss!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

March On!!

Every year as we plan the Fun Fourth Festival Parade we try to find a Marching Band, because every parade needs a band!! We haven't, in the past, had much luck with marching bands as the high school and college bands are off for the summer. Over the years we have added Jamestown Pipes and Drums and Old South Dixieland as our Fun Fourth Bands and they are crowd favorites.

This year we are pleased to announce the addition of the Burlington Teen Tour Band -- Canada's Musical Ambassadors Since 1947!! This group of teens and young adults performs all over the world. They have performed in the Tournament of Rose's Parade, 60th Anniversary D-Day in France, St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland, Orange Bowl Parade, World Series in Toronto and in Itabashi, Japan.

This year they will be marching in the Fun Fourth Festival Independence Day Parade. Make sure you come on out to see them.

The parade is Saturday, July 3 and it kicks off the Festival at 9:30 am.

The Burlington Teen Tour Band will also perform on Stage 2 at Festival Park at 1:30pm.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

CraftScene SpotLight: Witchhazel Handmades

Justiann Ard is the creative force behind Witchhazel Handmades, a local, one-woman, handmade craft business she runs out of her home in the Glenwood neighborhood of Greensboro.  She specializes in making unique jewelry pendants out of glass and solder, some using vintage and foreign stamps which help define Justi's funky-chic style that is original and affordable.  Justi also makes wine journals, notebooks, candle shields and more which she sells online at her etsy store.  You can read more about Justi in her GoTriad interview, or better yet, you can see Justi and her creations at the FunFourth Street Festival- Saturday July 3rd downtown Greensboro.

Support your local Artists and Crafters.  Buy Local- Shop Handmade.