Skills: Demonstrating Artist, Public Presentations, Teaching
Patrick Draffin says of his Norlina upbringing, “I was raised to understand that stories are our history, and that’s how you learn it. [I] was told at a very early age, ‘Listen to your elders.’” Draffin grew up in a long-time Warren County family immersed in the heritage of the area and, because of that, he developed an early understanding of the importance of stories in a community’s identity.
“I always have been a fan of storytelling, sitting on the porch, listening to grandparents and their friends, aunts and uncles, [tell] their stories from their childhood and that kind of stuff. Listening to folks get animated about it really taught me an appreciation of storytelling.”
While still in elementary school, he won a district-wide storytelling contest several years in a row. He further developed his skills in college at UNC-Wilmington, where he majored in Communications Studies. A favorite theater course required the students to go out and tell stories in the New Hanover County public schools. He enjoyed the course so much that he signed up for it semester after semester.
Today Patrick Draffin is the Athletic Director for the Warren County Schools and coaches baseball. He also serves on the Warren County Arts Council and has been active in Warrenton’s downtown revitalization efforts. Every October, Draffin leads a nighttime ghost-walk through the streets of the old town, helping to increase the visibility of Warrenton and its heritage. He dresses in nineteenth-century clothes and performs in the character of a forlorn Charlestonian lost in time, whose ramblings brought him into intimate association with the supernatural in Warren County. Although some of the stories Draffin shares in his ghost walks are not of local origin, many are, and with each passing year, more and more people share their own tales with him.
“Slowly but surely we’re starting to get stories of things that go bump in the night, that actually did occur, and have . . . historical significance to Main Street and downtown Warrenton.”
Draffin is uniquely qualified to share stories of Warren County’s heritage with audiences of all ages, and in his work as a storyteller he has found that the more stories that he learns and retells, the more he finds there are to learn.