HAMLET — The Seaboard Festival returns to its roots as an artisan crafters’ festival with the addition of new vendors, sponsors and flavors, said organizer Kim Lindsey.
“One of the great things we’ve done this year is advertised on several different free festival pages across the state,” she said. “We’ve already picked up 22 new vendors and possibly two or three more in the mail today.”
Lindsey said the Seaboard Festival has always been primarily a crafts festival, but in recent years has lost some of its previous quality.
“You don’t have to make the Mason Jar,” she explained. “But you do have to make the Mason Jar better. That’s the definition of a crafter. A person who buys bulk plastic cars from Taiwan and puts them on a table and sells them is not a crafter. So we don’t have those anymore.”
Lindsey described several of the artisans and crafters who will be at the Seaboard Festival for the first time.
“We have a lady who reclaims granite counter tops, polishes the granite up and makes it handlable, and turns them into cheeseboards,” she said. “We have a lady who paints inside wine bottles and puts lights in them. We have a new one who does leather work.”
According to Lindsey, one goal of the planning committee for this year’s festival was to eliminate duplicate food vendors and increase the quality and variety of foods available for purchase.
“We’ve added 12 or 14 new food vendors, and one person will offer sauceless flavored wings — they taste as good as chicken wings people are used to but are a lot less messy,” she said. “We also have a person who does smoked sausage dogs — these big, giant hot dogs with everything on them you could imagine.
“Someone will be making shrimp and oyster Po’ Boy sandwiches,” Lindsey continued. “We even have a lady who is coming to do crab cakes. These are some things we’ve never had before. We’ve got a couple of people out that we’re still waiting on, like one of our local Mexican restaurants with their taco truck. There’s going to be Cajun food. Tex-Mex food. And another vendor specializes in smoked brisket and ribs.”
In recent years, Lindsey said “duplicate food vendors” wound up with a lot of space. It was not unusual to see three or four food trucks advertising the same “starring” item.
“If you didn’t eat chicken on a stick or giant turkey legs, you were out of luck,” Lindsey said. “This year, we hope people will come, plan on eating lunch and even staying for dinner. We have limited the food vendors, because this isn’t a food festival — it’s a craft festival. Our nonprofits serving food have been severely limited this year.”
Nonprofit groups from across the state, she explained, have often come and occupied spaces in the festival — even if the groups were unknown to our area.
“On them this year, we’re looking at menu and location,” Lindsey said. “I did a lot of research on a lot of other festivals, and generally they say, ‘We’ll have you if you are located here in the county.”
The limited number of spaces available for vendors to set up make a lottery the only fair way to finalize who will appear at the festival, said Lindsey.
“I turn everybody upside down on a table and tell somebody how many I need of that type of vendor, and they go by and touch that many and those are the ones that get in,” she said of the lottery process. “Nobody can see who they are and nobody knows. That’s as fair as I can be. I’m not picking, somebody else is. “
Organizers of the Seaboard Festival also announced the addition of Food Lion as a new sponsor.
“They will be at our festival giving samples of their products, and they’ll sign people up for MVP cards and give away coupons and coupon booklets,” Lindsey said.
She added that there is a new route this year for the 5K race, and that Duke and Missy Smith have hired professionals to bring high-tech timing to the runners.
“Another thing that we’re doing this year that is going to be interesting is the A&P is going to be gone soon, and the city is going to let us use it as the site of our upper stage during the festival,” Lindsey said. “By moving it there, you can bring your lawn chair and spend the afternoon, and we’re going to try and keep that stage going throughout the afternoon so that there is always something going on.”
She said there will be new musical acts this year along with returning favorites — plenty for everyone to enjoy.
“Once upon a time it was an artisan crafts fair,” she said. “It was meant to be that all along, and has been that for many, many years. We’re just bringing it back.”
The Conductor’s Call contest in late afternoon at the lower stage will return with cash prizes.
“That’s at 3 p.m. and we encourage people to sign up,” Lindsey said. “It’s sponsored by Watson-King Funeral Home.”
Another important change this year excludes pets of any kind from attending the Seaboard Festival — unless they are service animals.
“We can’t bring them on the street,” she explained. “We just have to restrict that. So everyone please, please, please leave your pets at home.”
The visitor’s center will have maps to all of the food vendors and a list of where to find various crafters at the festival.
The official deadline for vendor registration is Sept. 1, but vendors can still apply after that date with the payment of a $25 late fee.
“Crafters pay $50, and it’s a fun day,” Lindsey said. “People see your work. They can get your card, order custom products. It’s especially good for local crafters, since you get the opportunity not just on the day of (the festival) but also further down the road for people to be interested in your products.”
The festival is slated for October 29.
For more information, visit www.seaboardfestival.com or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.