NBTF not just for plays

NBTF not just for plays
August 13
00:00 2015

In above photo: Bern Nadette Stanis, best known as Thelma on “Good Times”, was among the authors at the International Vendors Market. (Photo by Todd Luck)

Market draws vendors and shoppers

When not taking in the multitude of plays, many attendees of the National Black Theatre Festival could be found at the M.C. Benton Convention Center perusing the wares at the NBTF International Vendors Market.

A tradition at the NBTF, the vendors market brings in more than 20,000 customers each festival.

Organizer Rhonda Caldwell, president of The Main Event, said both locals and the many out-of-town visitors the festival attracts are drawn to the market.

“They’re wanting to come and find unique things,” she said.

This year, Ford Motor Co. was offering test drives in front of the convention center and letting attendees spin a wheel for cash and prizes.

In the hallway, volunteers selling T-shirts and other paraphernalia bearing the NBTF logo were doing a brusque business.

Along the hall, many authors sold their books at tables.

Among the writers was Bern Nadette Stanis, best known for her role as Thelma in the 1970s sitcom “Good Times.”

She had copies of her book “Situations 101: Relationships” advice book.

She got a steady stream of people paying for her book and a photo with the actress.

“People just support me and love me,” she said. “They always tell me they still watch ‘Good Times’ and it’s generational now because now they’re letting their children and grandchildren watch it. They always tell me it’s the best TV ever.”

Stanis’ new book that comes out this month, “The Last Night: A Caregivers’ Journey Through Transition and Beyond” talks about her life, including becoming a star on “Good Times,” her parents role in her success and dealing with her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease.

Stanis took care of her mother, who passed away in 2007, for eight years with the disease and now has a Remembering the Good Times Alzheimer’s Foundation, which she was raising money for.

Inside the vendors’ room, more than 100 vendors were selling their wares.

Some vendors, such as Gloria Vaughters, were local.

She was selling handmade jewelry in her Gloria’s Place booth.

Vaughters was a quality inspector for 25 years at Tyco electronics before a kidney transplant left her unable to work.

She was looking for something to do with her time when she took a jewelry making class at the arts and crafts store A.C. Moore.

“I enjoyed it when I started taking classes,” she said. “I was bored sitting at home. I had to find something to do.”

Vaughters fell in love with making jewelry and now displays at festivals and events regularly and does the NBTF vendors market when it comes to Winston-Salem every two years.

She said customers are drawn to the uniqueness of her jewelry, which she designs herself.

Most vendors were from out of town, like Bryant Taylor from Duncan, S.C. who was surrounded by Black Greek clothing at his BTS Urban Wear booth.

It’s his second time at the vendors market. “I like the vibe, the spirit, the feel of it, everything,” he said.

There were a wide variety of products and services offered at the market.

A stage area allowed for vendors to do demonstrations, such as Thursday’s make up demonstration done on attendees by Bovanti Cosmetics and Spa of Greensboro.

Debra Hubbard of Los Angeles, California, was selling T-shirts she made herself bearing the words “Black Don’t Crack,” an old adage that she trademarked herself.

Optician June Mines of Washington, D.C., was busy at her These Eyes of Mines booth, taking orders for stylish prescription glasses that she would mail to customers.

Carl Crawford of Columbia, S.C., turned his space into a small gallery for his colorful framed fine art.

Crawford is a former graphic artist who used to do print production.

Now he’s a professional artist who uses cut up old magazines to create collages so seamless that they resemble paintings upon first glance.

He’s drawn to movement in his art, portraying dancers, children and jazz.

He regularly sets up at various festivals, including the NBTF vendors market.

“Anytime you deal with people who respect the creative energy of the arts, that’s a market I need to be in,” he said.

Marsha Holden was among the many customers at the vendors market.

She came with The Colorful Arts Society of Atlanta, Georgia, to see some plays and take in the theatre festival experience.

She bought a birthday present for a relative and Shea butter on Thursday afternoon before having to leave to catch a play, but said she’d definitely be back to buy more.

“It’s beautiful, it’s beautiful stuff.” she said. ”There’s a lot of things. If I was a millionaire, I’d buy more.”

About Author

Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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