Mayberry Farmfest’s attendance was reduced by rain and threats of bad weather on Saturday but Downtown Business Association President Phil Marsh remained hopeful more precipitation would hold not occur and evening attendance would increase.
Marsh said the kickoff event for Farmfest, the tractor parade was better attended than last year’s.
“I just couldn’t believe the amount of people at the tractor parade. The crowd was great, ” said Marsh. “The weather has affected it some. We had a few vendors cancel and a few tractors did not participate because of the forecast for heavy rains. A total of 40 tractors participated in our parade this year and the children’s parade had a lot more participate.”
Mount Airy Museum of Regional History Executive Director Matthew Edwards said the first two of a three-part Luthier’s exhibit opened with the guitar and banjo components to a good response. He said a fiddle component of the exhibit is planned to coincide with the fiddler’s convention later this year.
“We’ve had a great turnout here today with more than 330 through to look at the exhibit. This is a good sign this exhibit will be appreciated by folks and see good visitation through its time here,” said Edwards.
Marsh said the DBA was getting a lot of complements on Farmfest this year with participants telling him they were impressed by the number of events held downtown. He said this brings a lot of people to town and that’s what the DBA wants. He also said Farmfest is a chance to recognize farmers which is also good for the community.
“Farmfest shows we respect them (farmers) and gives them a chance to show off a little,” added Marsh. “I’ve seen lots of families today and they seem to really like this type of festival.” He said the festival would not be possible without the efforts of volunteers as well as the local business association. Sponsors for the event this year included Mount Airy Saw and Mower, Southern States, Mount Airy Equipment, Eagle Carports, Dan Valley Tractor, Leonard Buildings and Patterson Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler.
Near the DBA booth, Blacksmith Joe Allen was demonstrating his trade to Farmfest participants. Allen had added a new item this year which was delicately stamped jewelry in the shape of flowers which contrasted with the many larger, practical items he routinely pounds out on his anvil. Nearby, 6-year old Colton McGee from Greenville, Tenn., played with a toy truck on the blacksmith’s display table. The little boy looked like something from a Norman Rockwell version of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
McGee was at Farmfest with other members of his family including Wayne Arnett of Newland. The group said this was their first festival in Mount Airy and said they liked it better than Greenville’s Irish Festival. The group agreed Mount Airy’s active downtown was the perfect place for the festival. They said other downtown areas were so economically depressed it detracted from celebrations. McGee said he liked the tractors best.
Up the street from this activity new downtown businessman Bernard Jackson, owner of the B Austin Clarke Gallery, was sampling the made-from-scratch banana pudding offered by the the Sandy Level Community Council to benefit the Satterfield House. This recipe was from Walter Norman, one of a group of local cooks behind the collard green sandwich so popular at the Autumn Leaves Festival. Norman has more than 40 years experience cooking to help various local causes. Jackson’s eyes rolled back and he smiled broadly after tasting the pudding. He made a yum sound.
“That’s all I can say,” uttered Jackson. “It’s off the chain good. That is just plain old ignorant good. Wow.” Jackson explained that he cannot wait to introduce members of his family to Mount Airy. The gallery is named after his children, Indigo Blue, Austin and Clarke, who have no idea about the gallery.
“I can’t wait for them to come down her from Jersey. I love it here. They are really going to enjoy the pace,” said Jackson. He said he hopes to offer a venue for them to share their talents in jazz and dance with the area.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.