Former editor of The Stokes News, Leslie Bray Brewer, remembers helping her friend Anita Burroughs plan “Totally Stoked Youth”, an evening for children preparing to return to school each year.
“When the 2009 event was hampered by having to be moved indoors due to weather issues, we just assumed the next year’s event would rebound and surpass even the original,” Brewer said.
But sadly, Burroughs passed away from cancer the following summer.
“I had this feeling down deep that we weren’t supposed to let it fall by the wayside. Yet I was already spread too thin to be able to pick up the fallen torch. When I left the newspaper fully in June 2013, I began to feel that I should re-organize it.”
This Saturday, Aug. 27 will mark the third year Brewer’s hosted the event she renamed Stokes Stoked. It’ll kick off at the Lions Park in Walnut Cove from 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
The theme of 2016 is “Let it Echo”.
“The thought behind that is we want this particular line of the song to come true: “Let it echo…..from this city… to the nations … the sound of praise!” The United in Christ Community Youth Choir will sing that song at the rally. Each year we have a scripture to go with the theme. This year it is, ‘Sing to the Lord, praise His name … Declare His glory among the nations.’ Psalm 96:2-3.”
In the past, the floating event has seen anywhere from 300-500 in attendance.
“I think people enjoy it for many reasons. It’s outdoors where they can dress casually and sit in lawn chairs or on blankets. Little ones can run around and play in the grassy field and there’s a free meal and time to fellowship. Children are the primary performers and there’s a variety of Christian entertainment. There is always a real presence of God’s Spirit in the worship and praise,” Brewer said.
Burroughs original vision for the event was to bring people together throughout Stokes County.
“Since Anita used our county’s name in the play on words with her original name of “Totally Stoked Youth,” which was transformed into “Stokes Stoked,” we wanted to carry on her dream to make this an event that unites all of Stokes County. Although Walnut Cove hosts it and primarily sponsors it through donations from local churches, we want every single church in Stokes County to take part. That’s my goal for the future, to get more and more churches involved.”
In 2014, Brewer said 24 churches joined with Stokes Stoked and last year even more came out in support.
“This includes churches from Forsyth, Surry and Rockingham counties, too. So far this year I have been in touch with about 40 churches in the area. The traditional division in Stokes County will only be ended when people of faith bind together in the unity of Christ. It has never been His will for there to be any division between different regions of this county, other than friendly sports rivalries.”
Brewer would love to see other parts of the county sponsor similar events throughout the year.
“Churches in King or in the northern part of the county perhaps could host a county-wide youth rally during the middle of the school year when winter is seeming long and dark and school days drag on and on. We could even have a county-wide youth rally quarterly to inspire our youth to stand strong for Christ all year long,” she said.
The vision of Stokes Stoked is for people of all ages to have an increased faith in Jesus Christ and a renewed desire to spread the Gospel.
“I hope that youth in particular leave this event encouraged and with a fresh determination to stand strong for God during the school year and not to fall prey to negative peer pressure and immorality.”
Brewer added, “This year we have another goal: to let it echo to this currently very troubled and divided nation that Stokes County is a place where people come together in unity with no division of race, culture, class, gender or denomination. We want to set ourselves forth as a model of how it can and should be done—in the love and unity of Christ.”
On Saturday, Stokes Stoked will have free hot dogs, chips, drinks and desserts from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m.
“All of the food is donated. Tami Lilly of Exodus Ministries in King will be back with a sno-cone machine, offering free sno-cones.”
This year HanesBrands in Rural Hall has donated 459 shirts from youth small to adult XL, the most they’ve ever donated and will be handed out first-come, first-served.
“The shirts are in the process of being screen printed by Ken Williams of 350tees in Walnut Cove,” Brewer said.
The event will also include free Bibles, tents on loan from Burroughs Funeral Home, professional stage and sound by Moxley Productions Services of King, food donations by Food Lion and Ingles, emergency and first-aid tent on site thanks to volunteers from the Walnut Cove Fire and Rescue, and performances by youth from all over the county.
The guest speaker will be Minister Kevin Gastley from King and James Brock, Jr. is returning for the third year to co-emcee with Brewer. The evening will conclude with an altar service of prayer of dedication over the youth before they go back to school.
New to the Stokes Stoked this year will be a Walnut Cove Community Choir, made up of youth and adults.
“We are only able to pull off two practices before the event but are trusting God to make it all work for His glory! We will be singing at two different times during the night—two songs each time,” Brewer said. “We’re also adding congregational singing. Jensen Williams, a young lady from Living Word Ministries in King, and Seth Walker, from First Christian Church in King, will bring their guitars to lead the crowd at two different times in songs such as you might hear on K-Love radio station.”
Throughout the evening, local youth pastors will take a couple of minutes to introduce themselves and briefly tell about their church’s youth program.
For more information about Stokes Stoked contact Leslie Brewer at
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.