Skip to main content

Cabarrus Magazine

Most Recent 'Up Front' Explores Cures for Cabin Fever, Adds Tribute for Fallen Podcast Friend

Feb 24, 2020 03:55PM ● By Jason Huddle

Cabin Fever!

Huddle
Welcome to Up Front with Cabarrus magazine, sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, The Circle: A World of Wellness for Women, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie`s Salon, and Your CBD Store of Concord. I'm your host, Jason Huddle.

Hello and welcome back to another installment of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. Once again, I do want to apologize for not having an episode last week. Sometimes no matter how hard you try the cards just don't fall your way. We had scheduling conflicts. We had timing conflicts. It was just a nightmare. No matter how much I tried to regroup and make an episode happened, it just didn't and so at some point, I just had to call it. So I do apologize, as I said on the Upfront with Cabarrus magazine podcast page on Facebook to my sponsors, I will make that week up to you and we'll do an extra show on a five week month, which we typically don't do. But we will do that to make up that episode, and I do apologize. So this has been a crazy winner so far right from the weather standpoint, we've had 70 degree days. We've had 25 degree days. It snowed this week, and in a few days it's gonna be sixty something degrees again. It's so weird. You`d think being a native of this area that I would be used to it by now. I don't think I've ever gotten used to it. I don't know that any of us actually ever do. It's hard to get used to something that's constantly changing in any respect. It's hard to count on the weather and so sometimes we just get cabin fever. We need to get out of the house. What do we do? There are a couple places in Cabarrus county that I'm gonna introduce you to today that I feel like are great options for you to get out of the house. But now I have to worry about the weather. One of those places is Valcarol Missions escape rooms. They're located in the Gibson Mill facility in Concord and also Clearwater Arts Center and studios. Both of those facilities have some great things to offer, obviously with ClearWater is a variety of art that you can go and look at and even interact with the artists. It's great. And then the Valcarol Mission Escape rooms. It's just a lot of fun. There's an incredible amount of detail that they put into that business, So I'm anxious to introduce you guys to them today but first we have to do shameless plug time.
So I'm very excited because we have not one but two new sponsors coming on board as community sponsors with Cabarrus Magazine dot com, which also makes them a sponsor of this podcast, Walk Cabarrus a new nonprofit initiative to get Cabarrus residents out there walking. They want us to walk one billion steps by the end of the year, and also New Hope Worship Center is coming on board as a sponsor. I'm excited to get Pastor Dale Jenkins onboard with us. He's a great speaker. I'm looking forward to having him in the studio to talk. I enjoy any conversation that I have with him, and I'm looking forward to introducing him to you as well. So New Hope Worship Center, Walk Cabarrus. Welcome to the family. That means we only have one sponsorship left. So if you are interested, please call 7047822353 and grab that last sponsorship spot before it is gone, and that is this week's shameless plug. So before we go to break, I just want to mention stay tuned till the very end of the program. We have a very special tribute to a friend of the podcast that we lost earlier this week and a way that you could honor her memory. So please stay tuned at the end of the show for that. When we come back, we'll be on site at the Valcarol Missions Escape Rooms Stay tuned.  
Welcome back to upfront with Cabarrus Magazine. I am on location at the Valcarol Escape Room Missions in Concord. They're located at the Gibson Mills area. Very cool. I just got the nickel tour and I am sitting here with Tara Velardi. She is one of the owners. She owns it with her husband, Jodie and what's unique about this escape room is everything that you see they created. They're not part of a franchise. They absolutely created the puzzles, the story line, the background videos, the things that set it up and the decor and everything they've done to set up the rooms is absolutely phenomenal. I feel like I'm at Disney that kind of detail has been put into these escape rooms. So, first of all, Tara, thank you for coming on the program today.
Thank you for having me.
And thank you for the nickel tour. That was That was great. I enjoyed it. So let's talk about the Valcarol missions. What makes this escape room different? Besides the fact that these are all original stories from you and Jodie. But what makes this different from other escape rooms that people might have enjoyed before?
I'd say the the idea that they're coming in as a hero into our storyline. So when you play, you know we actually want you to be successful. We want you to come in the room. You can have unlimited clues of course it's up to you. If you don't want hints and clues, you can say you don't, But we do allow for that cause you're coming in as the hero and the other thing I'd say is our tech integration is really unique. No one is really able to do with Jody's done with our tech system, which actually were sitting in front of, um, the game master suite here. I know you all can't see it, but we can, and it's very unique and allows us to have great interaction with the customers and for customers to really teamwork and have great interaction with each other in the rooms through the tech features.
One of the things that's neat is when you walk up to your storefront, you can actually see straight into the game I've never seen a game master room before. That's usually somewhere that they don't allow you to see. But you make it part of the ambiance of what people are stepping into. Right,
Right, right, complete immersion Right away, we have an overarching story line that's almost like a Star Wars saga or a novel series where you know you're coming into the lobby and the lobby's already part of that story, like you said, and the game master suite is actually still part of the story on the spaceship, and then all the rooms are connected in that story line. They're all very different feels you can speak to that because you were just in two of them very different feels. But they give you another part of the story and what's fun is customers don't have to play them in any order. But the more rooms they play, the more the story they get.
Very good. And so right now you have two active rooms, right, with plans for more
Correct.  Yes, yes, we will have two more.
About what? About how much time does it take four people to complete a room?
It really does take almost all the hour that you know, you normally expect in an escape room to get through either crystal cave or hidden lab. And we do ask people to come 15 minutes early so that they can see the video introductions and things like that get settled in. So we tell people plan about an hour and 1/2 here. But you know, the actual games about hour.
One of the other things that I noticed when we were touring the rooms is it's called an escape room. But it's really not about escaping more than his solving puzzles. Right?
Right, exactly. Ours is more about getting in there, having fun, you know, having an interactive, immersive experience with the people you came with. Yes, solving the puzzle is not necessarily that scary idea that you might get from the movie escape room movies or some other even escape rooms. Ares are more about getting in, solving the puzzles, being the hero. It's more of a feel good kind of thing, even though it does take place in this science fiction world post apocalypse. So it has an edgy, fun feel almost a mad max or you know, adventure story feel and you're going on that adventure.
There may or may not be irradiated zombies involved. I`m just saying I got freaked out by something.
May or may not, but no live actors. People ask that all the time, are there? Is there anybody in there that might jump out or get me or touch me? And we promise as of now, and you can always ask us, but we have no live actors so nothing's gonna actually get you.
So what's the minimum number of players that you would recommend for any particular room?
I`d say two although very recently just about two weeks ago we had a gentleman come. He was meeting a date, I think it was an online dating situation and she was unable to show up. So he was, Yeah, she did not show up. She stood him up. And so he was like, Should I play? Should I go? And I was like, You know what? With our tech features, I can really be your virtual other partner. So that's another thing that's really unique. Some rooms you just couldn't play yourself. You'd have to reimburse or reschedule. So I asked him, You know, I said, you know, I would rather you play and maybe end this on a good note today and have fun. He played, he had a blast. He actually played the hidden lab by himself. With me is his virtual kind of partner. And with our tech, we can make that happen. Even though there are a lot of collaborative puzzles, I am able on the game master sideto be able to work with him sort of, in the room. So he was able to do it and actually, we had a really good time. I enjoyed it more than I thought.
So what would be the maximum number of people that you would recommend for a run.
So the crystal cave actually can hold up to 15 and the hidden lab can hold 10 so with both rooms. We can do 25 people at a time for corporate team building's birthday parties. You know, family reunions. We actually had a large group that took both rooms the other day. They were actually some visiting in town for a funeral. They shared that with me. I thought maybe it's a family reunion. When it was all family, they were taking the two rooms, and I actually thought that was really kind of a neat idea to come together and do something together in the room and work together at a time. You know, when you're feeling kind of sad and a little bit wanted to celebrate that person's life but any occasion, any kind of situation, yeah 25.
Now I will say that both of these rooms are a little bit intense. So what age would you recommend?
We don't recommend under six years old, basically, for that reason, because there are some sounds and things that open, you know, without yoou really knowing automatically and there some sound bites and audio features and video features to the rooms. But I think a child, yes, it could be a little bit nerve racking.  
I think I'm not old enough for that one.
Hey, the Crystal cave has none of that though.
Just skulls in the walls other then that it's completely fine.
It might be the people who didn't make it out.
Maybe, by the way, the doors are not locked. You can get out at any time. Everybody always asked that whenever I've gone to an escape room and been with other people that we didn't know, somebody always asked her. We really locked in, no, you're not really locked in. They can't really lock you in, that`s against the law.
It is. It's against the law. And we had people who left, you know, for various reasons, I had maybe answer a phone call or things like that. We showed people we actually, because we came into the space and had it all built custom for us. We actually didn't even put locks on the escape room doors so that we can show you that isn't even a locking system.  
You can get out anytime you want. Do you confiscate everybody's cell phone.
We do not. We even allow pictures in the room is another unique thing about us. We don't confiscate get anything. We have space and every room for you to put things down if you want. It's more for your personal belongings. Your convenience. We trust you that you're gonna keep everything in there. We ask you not some pictures while you're playing, but afterwards we can take many pictures in the room, as you like.
Real quick before I let you go Tera. Why don`t you to tell everybody where you're located exactly and then where they can find you online?
Sure absolutely, we are in the Charlotte area. We're in Concord, North Carolina. were in Gibson mill. That's important to note. There are lots of escape rooms in the Charlotte area now. So were the Valcarol Missions Escape Room in Gibson Mill. You can find us pretty much everywhere, even Pinterest and Twitter. But our main spots, of course, are Instagram and Facebook. Valcarol Missions dot com is our webpage, and that is where you can book your tickets to come in and plays at www dot The Valcarol Missions dot com.
The Valcarol Missions?
Correct.
And it's V A L C A R O L.
Correct. It's both of our mom's names, Val and Carol
Very good and what if I can ask? What can people expect to pay for a mission?
Yes, $26 a ticket, which is actually.
That's pretty good.
Cheaper than a lot of them. Yeah, even though we have all this money into it and it's such a cool experience. Yeah, we wanted to keep it affordable. We want as many people to get in and play it as we can.
Tera Velardi with the Valcarol Missions, escape rooms. Thank you so much for spending some time with us today.
Thank you. Thank you for coming out.
All right, you guys stay tuned. And while the commercials are playing, why don`t you get online and book a mission we`ll be right back.
Welcome back to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I am on location at the newly renamed Clearwater Arts Center and Studios. The last time I was here, it was Clearwater artist studios. Now it's art center and studios, and I am joined by the Grand poobah of said studio and art center Sarah Gay. Thank you for coming on the program with us today.  
Thank you for having me. It's great to have you here.  
So we're talking this week about the weather's been crazy. One minute it's 60 degrees. The next minute it's snowing. We don't know what's gonna happen for minutes a minute. It is North Carolina, so I was trying to think of things that are interesting for people to go do anybody can go bowling or go to a movie, but this is an opportunity to expand your mind in a legal way. So let's talk about you guys have a juried art show that's going on right now at the center. Put on by the Cabarrus Art Guild, and why don't you tell us a little bit about it?
Absolutely. So we do run rotating exhibitions in our main gallery, and now we also have The Greenway Gallery online downstairs. And this spring, the Cabarrus Art Guild, which is actually in its 50th year, is holding their annual judged show for the first time in our gallery. And so they brought those works in, judged to them at the beginning of the month, and those are on view for anyone to come in and take a look at this kind of some nice variety of work from around the county.  
So what I noticed in just going through and taking a quick peek at what was available to see. It's not just paintings. There's a variety of different styles. Tell us about that.  
Yeah, they brought in a whole variety. The Art killed is really good at reaching out to kind of, ah whole cross section of types of artists. And so we have artists that are doing glasswork where they use broken glass and sort of create a sort of three dimensional but hang-able works on the wall out of glass. We have couple sculptures, some ceramic pieces, lots of paintings some photography, and I believe some drawings in there as well.  
Incredible glasswork.  
I`m glad you like it.  
I love it, it's really cool. I've never seen anything like it.
Yeah, the artists who do we get very into that.  
It's like pictures, but made out of broken glass. It's like frame-able glass work. I don't know. I don't even know how to explain it. I'm not an art major or anything.  
But you too Jason can come and do that. They do their open work sessions every Tuesday, and anybody who can work on a small project can come in and be with those people.  
I don't know if getting me around broken glass is a good idea.  
You do have to watch the sharp edges.  
Yeah, for sure. So besides the juried art show, some other things happening around the center are first of all, every second Saturday. Right? You guys have those second Saturday at the art center. Tell us about what happens then.  
Every second Saturday of the month, we welcome people from 10 a.m until 4 p.m. And open the doors with open studios. So that means we currently have 14 artists here on site with their own studios they work in, and so that is a chance for people to come in, see the artist in their studio, ask any questions, watch them work, see what they make, maybe buy a piece or two. All of these artists sell their work out of their studios as well as out of our gallery. So it's just a larger level of access and included in that as a Southern Piedmont wood turners who are very good about having some members here each second Saturday turning wood in their studio. So if you come in on any given day of the week, that's not often available, because there a lot of members air have other jobs where they're retired or they're doing other things. So, um, so that's a day when you can kind of come and get a larger sampling of the artists who were working here, and it's, you know, something new for people who aren't used to art or don't realize all the different varieties that could be made and don't realize necessarily the talent that we got here. We got some really cool artists here making amazing work.  
The wood turners, I believe, do a demonstration once a month.
Absolutely. Yeah. They were actually just here last night. So they have a once a month meetings every third Tuesday evening. Uh, and it's wide open for anybody who is coming to see them. For the first time. They always book a demonstrator. And last night they had one of the oldest members (inaudible) Brady, demonstrating a technique on the big blade. Yeah. 
Very cool. And for those who are more into Yoga and Zin and all that kind of stuff, you have something for them too, right?  
We do. It's very exciting. We started in January working with Vicky Geros, of Lotus Living Art Studio, which is in downtown Concord. She's pretty awesome. And she leads a great yoga class here now, yoga in the galleries every first Tuesday evening from 6 30 until 7 30 Vicky's charging just six bucks drop in, You know, get some relaxing deep breaths and taking the artwork while you're here. So that's pretty exciting and also, as a result of being our tennis. The guild is now offering a lot more classes in our spaces, and so classes are ramping up. Other events are looking to ramp up as well. So yeah, you can come and get active and not just look while you're here  
And coming up in April. Rowing Cabarrus Community College and you guys are partnered up. Tell us about what's coming there.  
We have been doing their annual spring student art show every year since 2014 it`s a great partnership. That is every April. So, uh, the faculty will bring in arts from all their students at the time, and they're up for one month. We're gonna have an opening on Friday, April 3rd. That's open to the public. They always do it up well with lots of refreshments and fun stuff to see. And it's usually packed with people as well as art.  
Always something fun going on in Clearwater, Art Studio and Center. And I can't even say that name anymore.
I think so. The reason that we change that name, by the way in the city was very supportive of this is that we are open to the public. You know, we're here. Is a resource, and a lot of people had told me coming in. And we knew that just seeing Clearwater Artists Studios nobody really knew whether that meant a private thing or that they couldn't come into or or what we're now named Clearwater Art Center and Studios and that sort of immediately indicates. Yeah, this is open. You can come in here. And so we've seen an uptick and just drop in visitors  
Since we're on the subject when it is a great time for people to come by? 
Best times are usually Wednesday through Friday afternoons. That's what we advertises our typical open times. So noon until five. Honestly, I'm usually here until six. If people want to come in a different time of the week, all they have to do is call. I am sometimes out of the office, and so we do have to lock the door when that happens. But there's a lot of times other times during the week that people could just stop in and see the place.
And one last thing. You guys have a very special announcement about something coming in 2021. Tell us about that.  
Okay, so this will be like the first place it's announced. Um,(inaudible). Yes, exactly. So Clearwater is hosting the Tri State Sculptors Association's annual conference in the fall of 2021 Tri State that refers to North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. And this Sculptors association has been around for 45 years, was co founded by artists in the area, and they moved their annual conference to different locations each year. It's about a three day event. It is always inclusive of whatever educational institutions are nearby. So I am now in conversations with Rowan Cabarrus Community College, UNC Charlotte, the County CVB and possibly the community colleges and Queens. You down in Charlotte to put together what we hope will be a really exciting three day conference in it looks to be October 2021.  
Sounds super exciting. Congratulations.  
Thank you so much.  
Real quick before I let you go, tell us where you're located and how they can find you online.  
We are in the Gibson Village neighborhood, which is one of the old mill town neighborhoods just outside of historic downtown Concord. It's a pretty little area, and we're at 223 Kroll Drive Northwest. Our website is www dot Clearwater Artists dot com, and that is Clearwater artists plural dot com and the number here is 747849535 So I'm here when I'm not out of meetings.  
Sarah Gay, director of Clearwater Art Center and Studios Thank you so much for coming back on the program with us today, and I look forward to come by and see all the great art and everything that's available here at the center.  
It's always a pleasure to talk to you, Jason and I want to thank Cabarrus Magazine for being so supportive.
Absolutely as a shameless plug there is more information about the juried art show and everything else that's going on at the art center in the March issue of Cabarrus Magazine coming up in just a week or so. So stay tuned for that. You guys stick around. We will be back to wrap up the show in just a few minutes.
I'd like to thank our hosts at the Valcarol Missions Escape Rooms as well as Clearwater Arts Center and Studios for having us out. They were great hosts, and we appreciate them talking with us and spending some time. So this week we've actually lost a couple of ladies who were important members of our community. Linda Johnson, who was our state representative in the Legislature for many many years, and she was currently serving her final term. She had already decided she was not going to rerun, but she passed away from cancer earlier this week, and also we lost another friend of the podcast and an advocate for the arts in our community. Mary Katherine Ewart. She was very involved with old courthouse theater and was passionate about community theater and its importance to our region. if you ever been to a show at Old Courthouse, you probably saw Mary Katharine onstage before the show started. Just giving announcements out what's coming up at the theater because she loved it. She wasn't getting paid to do all that. That was just part of her passion. She was actually on our program last spring to announce the new season over an old courthouse, which is almost concluded now. And during the course of that conversation, we were just talking about things you can do to help the theater, even if you don't act. And here's what she had to say.
We do drive a lot of revenue through our ticket sales, but we rely on the generosity of the community. Donations, donations, donations. That's really what keeps us going. And donations can be your time coming in help helping us build sets, helping us just clean the theater. I mean, we have an old house, and when you have an old, dusty house, there's a lot of dust in there, so you want to just clean the bathroom. Come on, clean a bathroom. We we can handle that. Certainly you can write a check and that check can be $5 it could be $50. It could be $500,000. We will certainly take it and accept it and put it to good use.
So obviously, specifically, she was talking about the theater. But my encouragement to you is if you want to honor somebody like Mary Katherine, pick a nonprofit or even pick a neighbor, just somebody or some organization to help give a couple hours of your time. I'm sure that they could use it, whether it's raking a neighbor's leaves or helping out an organization like habitat or meals on wheels, whatever you can do. I'm sure they will be happy to have your help. Mary Catherine made sure that she gave part of her very precious time to an organization that she believed in. I encourage you to find the same kind of passion and devote time to it. Our community, our world, will be better for it. And people like Mary Katherine Ewarts  memory will be honored. That's just about all the time I have for today. I would encourage you to tune in next week because we are going to be one year old and I'm very excited to have a one year anniversary celebration for Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I appreciate you the listeners, in getting us a as far as we have and of course, our sponsors, who along with our new ones, Walk Cabarrus and New Hope Worship Center starting in March. We couldn't do this podcast without you, for sure. Speaking of sponsors, I want to mention them once again. We are sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, The Circle: A World of Wellness for Women, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie`s Salon and your CBD Store of Concord. I've been your host, Jason Huddle. Until next week, get out of the house or something.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Cabarrus Magazine's free newsletter to catch every headline