For years, Lake Artesia was the spot in Sampson County. Teenagers and young adults knew about it, and most of them were there every Saturday night, dancing, hanging out and meeting friends at the nightclub owned and operated for decades by Louis and Peggy Brewer.
Lake Artesia prided itself on providing good music and entertainment for over 40 years before officially shutting its doors in 2004, when the Faison-area property was sold by the Brewers. After numerous requests, the couple decided to hold a reunion for all former patrons and anyone else who wants to join in the fun, remember old times and take in some old pictures, video and memorabilia from days gone by.
The inaugural Lake Artesia Reunion Party will be held Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center, located at 414 Warsaw Road, Clinton. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the band, Jim Quick and the Coastline Band, starts at 8 p.m. DJ Joey Warren will emcee and DJ between band sets.
“We had a lot of requests over the years,” said Peggy Brewer of a reunion. “Everywhere we would go people would say ‘why don’t you have a reunion?’ It might be Raleigh or Wilmington, but everywhere we’ve gone over the years we would see a lot of people who went to Lake Artesia.”
For those who might not remember — it was lovingly referred to as “Lake Amnesia,” after all — the club hosted a who’s who of musical acts and featured a variety of memorable contests, events and mainstays that were purely Lake Artesia.
Acts such as Bill Deal and the Rondels, The Tams, Archie Bell and the Drells, The Men of Distinction, The Band of Oz and Black and Blue graced the stage, DJ Vince spun tunes, and there were the lip sync contests, the Miss Lake Artesia Contest and, of course, the Summerfests. Whatever it was, it happened on Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to midnight at the lake.
“It was where all the local kids went and they could have fun and dance,” Brewer said. “We have so many couples who met there and (later) married. It was just an outlet for them. It was a safe environment where kids could have clean fun and meet people.”
Many who went to Lake Artesia now cherish the memories they made there and the parents of those teenagers, now adults, knew their children were safe at the Brewers’ club.
“They have to have somewhere to go,” Brewer said. “It certainly gave them a good outlet to dance and meet their friends. It was amazing how we always had contests and Summerfest — they kept you hopping because they always expected something new going on all the time.”
Giving those teenagers a place to go where they could be safe, but still have fun, drove the Brewers to start Lake Artesia in the first place. Plus, they had two children, Tina and Todd, who were that age too.
“We had kids growing up at the same time, and it gave us some involvement with their growing up,” she said. “And my husband has always loved music. We even have a granddaughter that is in the theater in Raleigh who is musical. Music has always been a part of our make-up.”
Inspired in part by the Williams Lake reunions — the sixth annual was held just last month — the Brewer family, with assistance and support from many others, decided to move forward with planning a reunion.
“We have our whole family involved,” said Brewer, who noted the large amount of feedback she has gotten from others about the Artesia reunion. Past club regulars have publicized the upcoming reunion and pitched in to sell tickets. “They’re excited about it, they really are. It will be great to reminisce with friends and talk about old times. I think the older you get, the more you remember the old times. It’s kind of like a family reunion.”
If the inaugural event goes well and there is a positive response, she hoped the Lake Artesia Reunion could similarly become an annual occurrence. A Facebook page started in May already has nearly 600 likes.
Event organizers have also been in contact with Vince Matthews, who was Lake Artesia’s official DJ for years, and are hoping he will be able to be in attendance.
“We have recently talked with him just this week and he is trying to work into his schedule to be there,” said Brewer. “Years ago, we only had bands and then the music trend sort of changed from bands to DJs, and that’s when Vince came in. Vince was very artistic and did a lot of the props and posters … he was just a unique individual. He certainly gave us a lot of help in the art category.”
Brewer and her husband are constantly approached by a former Lake Artesia patrons, some faces she remembers, some are a little hazy. But she knows that Lake Artesia held a place in their hearts, as it did her own. They’ll tell her about how much Lake Artesia meant to them and how they miss it. Brewer said she is glad to know it had an impact on so many lives.
“They were all just so special,” Brewer said. “To see their smiling faces, I think it kept us young. I loved it, because we met the greatest young people. I’m an advocate for young people and they were some of the best teenagers. I enjoyed being around them.”
For more information, visit www.lakeartesia.com or Facebook, at “Lake Artesia Reunion.” Tickets can be purchased at www.lakeartesia.com; at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center, which can be reached at 910-592-7200; at Brewer Realty, 115 SW Center St., Faison, which can be reached at 910-267-7091; and at the door the night of the event.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.