The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 13, 2012

Emmy winner to be featured at Carver Day

DIAMOND, Mo. — George Washington Carver is a man “way beyond peanuts and sweet potatoes,” storyteller Bobby Norfolk said.

Norfolk said he spent a year researching Carver and preparing for a performance of him for the 69th annual Carver Day Celebration.

“The main thing is the depth of this man and his intelligence and wisdom,” Norfolk said. “(Carver) was the precursor and led the way for organic forming and recycling and conservation.”

The event, scheduled for Saturday, celebrates the establishment of the park and the accomplishments of Carver, said Curtis Gregory, coordinator for the event.

The park will welcome the St. Louis storyteller, who won three Emmy awards as the host of “Gator Tales” on CBS and earned an Emmy nomination for hosting the series “Children’s Theater at Bobby’s House.”

Norfolk immersed himself in researching the conservationist from studying books on Carver, to watching videos and listening to audio tapes, he said. He visited the George Washington Carver Monument twice for primary sources and to interview the rangers.

Norfolk will use his research and preparation for a “one-man play,” designed to enhance the audiences’ perception and interpretation of Carver, he said. His performance will include a capella songs from Carver’s time period, as well as poetry and spoken words, he said.

Other guests to appear at George Washington Carver National Monument this weekend include author John Ferrell and local musician Lem Sheppard, of Pittsburg, Kan.

Ferrell, author of “Fruits of Creation,” will give a talk titled “Two Steps Ahead of Time,” which is designed to provide insight into Carver’s life through the lens of sustainability, Gregory said.

Visitors can expect a lecture on a man ahead of his time, who learned to reuse things, he said. A range of sets from area choirs to folk tunes are planned throughout the day as well.

Sheppard will perform folk and 19th century-inspired tunes at the event. St. Louis-based choir the Sensational Wonders will perform, as well as members of area Baptist churches.

Park officials will also offer guided tours, educational programs including a peanut milk demonstration and activities for kids ranging from painting to scavenger hunts.

“It’s a wonderful day to reflect on the establishment of the George Washington Carver National Monument,” Gregory said, “(And) to reflect and celebrate the many accomplisments of George Washington Carver.”

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