There was a moment during the Southern Culture on the Skids concert in downtown Sanford back in 2018 when the band played their hit, “Camel Walk” and hundreds of men, women and children in the crowd began to do the dance in unison, doing a move I can only imagine is called “The Hump.” Even Campbell University’s camel mascot appeared in the audience and joined in. As a 10-year Campbell employee now and a 14-year resident of Sanford, it was an odd collision of worlds for me.
But that moment hit me for another reason, too — it was a rare beautiful moment of “atmosphere” that I’d not experienced before in Sanford (and I don’t believe I’ve experienced since). Not that this city hasn’t thrown some great events — it’s just that the people of this city haven’t always been a captive audience.
Yes, I’m talking about you, dear Rant readers. A captive audience, we are not.
I write this six weeks before Sanford is set to host a two-day downtown music event called Carolina Indie Fest. Legitimate award-winning musicians from all over the country will play on three stages in downtown Sanford. Sure, you’ve probably not heard of most of them. That doesn’t mean they’re not going to entertain you.
I’ve introduced myself to many of their playlists in the past few months. They’re going to entertain you.
But my fear with Carolina Indie Fest stems from what I’ve witnessed at other events over the past 14 years — Sanfordians are apathetic when big events are held right in their backyards.
There are a few exceptions. We seem to like a good county fair. Fireworks shows usually do well (that actually helped the Southern Culture concert). We love a drive-through line at Bojangles in the morning.
But I’ve seen too many well-planned events just kind of fizzle out. Concerts that draw maybe 100 people. Festivals at half capacity.
As a “local guy,” I get embarrassed at our low turnout. I find myself not enjoying the event as much, because I’m looking around and wondering where everybody is. I not only want people in this city to enjoy these events, I want the musicians or actors or comedians or whoever is performing to remember their trip to Sanford and come away with a great impression.
This doesn’t always happen.
Hey, I get it. We’re busy. I don’t attend everything, and I’m not saying we have to go out of our way just to make Sanford look good.
But back to Carolina Indie Fest. Do you like music? Do you like food? Beer? Art? Downtowns with a music scene? Great atmosphere? Seeing an event in your city do well?
If you said yes to any of those, consider this event. It’s Sept. 18-19. We’re going to have a lot more about it in our September edition of this little paper. Who knows. You might like it. The organizers might want to bring it back. This could become a thing.
My fear, though, is standing there on Saturday night with about 54 other people wondering where the rest of Sanford is that night. Surprise me, Sanford.
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I am anxious about this as well. The Carolina Indie Fest is going on during the Lee Regional Fair. Hopefully there will be a large turnout for both events.
When events are planned like that they need to advertise to the whole community and not to just a certain part of town and not just through social media but signage and local radio! There have had events that I never knew about til it was over!
This is so true. We attended the Charlie Daniels concert at the fairgrounds. Not only is he a local grown grammy award winning talent known all over the world, he is an entertainer that can fill major arenas all over the country. But yet when he played in Sanford, little more than 100 people came out.
“Apathy Problem” ? That sounds a little judgmental.
What appears on a map as “Sanford”, remains two towns – Sanford and Jonesboro. Sanford is also nearly equidistant from Southern Pines/Pinehurst, Fayetteville, and Apex/Cary.
The result is that there is no unified “Sanford” culture. It has been this way since the merger in 1947 and it has not changed. Perhaps by 2147 things will have changed.
If you ask the average Sanfordian what “Indie” is, you are likely to have more to describe a place where cars with wings go fast vs. anything to do with music. Besides fried chicken, county fairs, and fireworks, many like fast cars too.
Fans of The Rant are extremely appreciative you have provided a forum to explain, showcase, and encourage participation in this event. That said, locally we are a community of approximately 30k, 75% of them have never heard of or don’t read The Rant.
I too hope participation in this event surpasses expectations locally, regionally, and monetarily. If it doesn’t, perhaps a more inclusive plan outside the Brickway would yield better results. Case in point, WFJA is the communities longest running historic and visible radio station, this event isn’t even on their community calendar.
Galileo Galilei once said, “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” Therein lies the opportunity to get more involved. See ya there!
I love the RANT, and get the majority of my local news here. But I think you’re right. Most Lee county citizens have probably never heard of it (nothing personal guys). I’d also bet that most also don’t listen to WFJA. Lee county has never struck me as an indie type of place. We don’t accept “different” very well. We were only 30 years late to the party in allowing a craft brewery. We tend to lean towards the slower side of progress, music included. For real numbers, I think they need to advertise on Raleigh media. That’s what most people listen to and watch. Cast a bigger net. You would be able to pull in more visitors that way. If you really want to draw people in, add a BBQ competition and cornhole tournament. That will draw in the locals.