PILOT MOUNTAIN — The 32nd annual Mayfest held its opening ceremonies in the Pilot Mountain Town Hall parking lot with a large crowd attending under sunny skies Friday.
Mayor Earl Sheppard welcomed festival participants to the town before young artist Landon Smith was presented $50 and a framed image of the festival logo he designed. Festival Chairman Scott Needham, vice president of the hosting Pilot Mountain Civic Club, was excited about the potential for crowds in light of the robust attendance early on.
“This is a great turnout for this time of day,” said Needham, who was interviewed after the opening festivities. “This is the largest amount of vendors we have ever had for any Mayfest with over 130. We are so pleased. This event used to end at CVS (pharmacy). We ran out of numbers (for spaces) and went to letters in the alphabet and back to numbers on the other side of the street for all the booths.”
Needham said Mayfest has remained true to its family-fun theme from its beginning. He said the event featured more food vendors this year ranging from ice cream and funnel cakes to chicken on a stick and pizza from Mezzy’s Pizzeria, a local restaurant, whose booth was run by band parents with proceeds benefiting the East Surry High School Band. One volunteer said she preferred the phrase bandma and not grandma to describe her. The boosters said they plan to stage another fruit fundraiser this fall to benefit the band.
Another popular booth appeared to be one operated by Boy Scout Troop 400 from Pinnacle which featured roasted corn. Needham said an important ingredient in the festival’s atmosphere was booths run by local persons.
“Family friendly is what we have remained,” added Needham. “This is a bring your kids and have some family fun with food and crafts.”
Festival attendee Maria Watson and her son, Hayston, said they were regulars at the event. Watson said this year was the second festival for her son and that his favorite part was the ice cream.
“He also likes socializing and looking at all of the people,” said Watson, laughing. “I like the food and looking at the crafts.” She said she grew up with Mayfest and started attending after school when she was younger.
Pilot Mountain’s Ruby Turney sat in the bleachers facing the Mayfest stage Friday holding her great-granddaughter Brylee Ring, who is 4. Turney said she also is a regular at Mayfest and attended this year especially to see Ring sing with her preschool group from the Pilot Mountain First United Methodist Church. When asked if singing made her nervous, Brylee smiled and shook her head, making the blond ponytail swing back and forth.
Henry Watson and Michael Powers chatted with festival goers while doling out samples of fresh kettle corn. Watson, who is from Winston-Salem, said he got the festival bug 14 years ago at a flea market in New Orleans. A vendor there gave him a sample of the corn. He was at the other end of the market when he tasted the corn and was surprised how good it was. He went back to the vendor who promised to “set him up” with what he needed for a booth of his own.
He wound up calling the vendor 10 times later but couldn’t get a response so he used the Internet and found what he needed from a firm in Washington State. He bought the supplies and the paper and started working events in Winston-Salem.
“We started the next day and we’ve been rolling ever since. There is not trans fats and zero fat in my corn. It’s healthy,” said Watson, winking, as customers crowded up to the rail to watch. “This is a special type of mushroom corn so when it pops it doesn’t grow wings and fly away from you.”
Festival goers walking down Main Street could be seen slowing up as they looked at musician Susie Cooper of Blue Mountain Herbs and Supplements as she played her Irish harp. She said she and local musicians Gordan Jolley, Jerry Gauvin and Myron Simmons met at The Living Room Coffehouse and Winebar in Pilot Mountain. The trio convinced her to turn her flute and harp skills to playing classical rock and they have obliged by learning some of her Irish music.
“Harp is so unusual it’s like a draw to people, so few have a chance to hear one these days,” said Cooper. “When I see them enjoying the music, that is a special joy for me.”
The festival continues today from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. in downtown Pilot Mountain.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.