Chatham County

Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival honors mothers

Peyton Elwell, 8, right, and Lizzy Kudlak, 8, played with colored sand in the children’s tent at the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival. Elwell attended the festival with her mother, Amy, and 3-year-old brother Paxton.
Peyton Elwell, 8, right, and Lizzy Kudlak, 8, played with colored sand in the children’s tent at the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival. Elwell attended the festival with her mother, Amy, and 3-year-old brother Paxton. ktrogdon@newsobserver.com

Clarissa Farrell’s eyes lit up and a grin spread across her face when she spoke of the love, compassion and strength that her mother, Bobbi Farrell, radiates.

“She’s an incredibly strong woman,” Farrell said, adding that her mother survived a battle with breast cancer. “She is someone who continues to surprise me with the depth of her wisdom all the time. The most important thing my mother has taught me is kindness and compassion ... and how important that is and is needed in the world.”

The 14th spring Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, a family-friendly celebration of music, dance, art and education, coincided with Mother’s Day on Sunday. The four-day event in Chatham County used to be held the second to last weekend in April but was moved this year in hopes of better weather, said Sara Waters, an event co-coordinator.

So organizers decided to do something special for mothers this year. On Sunday, moms were offered half-price admission and a chance to spend time with their families.

“It, of course, makes me think of my mother and just the great love that mothers hold and have,” said Farrell, who shared the origin of Mother’s Day with festival-goers Sunday morning.

Early iterations of Mother’s Day began in the 1850s when community activist Anna Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia organized clubs to address social issues, including sanitation. During the Civil War, she called on women to care for the wounded on both sides and tried to persuade men to end hostilities.

In 1872, author Julia Ward Howe proposed an annual Mother’s Day for Peace, a rally to bring more peace and justice for a better society. Americans celebrated Mother’s Day for Peace for the next 30 years, and in 1914, Congress declared the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day.

“It was a continued call to action for women to take responsibility for peace, social justice, economic justice and health in their communities,” Farrell said. “It was a natural relationship between motherhood and working for these things. So it feels like a good time in our own history to remember this – the original Mother’s Day.”

At the festival on Sunday, all mothers were honored, including women who step in to play the role of mothers, including grandmothers, aunts and teachers.

A display at Peace Park featured photos, flowers and mementos in honor of mothers who have died.

A few feet away, Liz Clore of Silk Hope spent her first Mother’s Day with her 3-month-old daughter, Amelia, in her arms. Clore said her favorite part of motherhood was seeing her daughter smile.

Some children spent part of the day in a special tent where they could play with sand or make crafts.

“I know a lot of kids were working on presents for their moms,” Waters said.

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608

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