NORMAN — Richmond County’s smallest town is expected to draw a crowd 36 times the size of its population — 138 , according to the 2010 census — for its annual Norman Fest this weekend.
Mayor Kenneth Broadway is doing everything he can to make sure those 5,000 guests have a good time, daring the negative weather forecasts to come true. The National Weather Service on Wednesday predicted a 20 percent chance of showers for Friday evening, when the event kicks off. Saturday promises to be partly sunny.
“The meteorologist said they can predict the weather with 90 percent certainty three days out so I’m going to check back in on Wednesday,” Broadway said Monday night. “Hopefully this will be the largest festival we’ve had.”
The festival will offer live music, live animals and presentations by the North Carolina Zoo, a performance by award-winning magician and Greensboro-native Dave Lucas, helicopter and trackless train rides, a classic car show, timber artists, and a two mile glow-in-the-dark “fun run.” There will also be craft and food vendors.
The benefits from the “fun run” will go to help a member of the community who needs it most. That benefactor has yet to be determined.
Rain has hurt the festival the past two years. Hurricane Matthew delayed Norman Fest last year, and persistent rain the year before caused it to be cut short.
The zoo was scheduled to appear for the first time both years but was unable to due to the weather. Should the third try be the charm, the animals they bring will be determined by the temperature on the day: if it’s colder they will bring more North American-native animals, if it’s warm they will bring their more exotic animals, according to Broadway.
The helicopter will use leftover cement foundation from an old lumber company as it’s landing pad, according to Kim Arnette, one of the organizers of the event.
“If you live local and you talk to him real nice he’ll take you over your own land,” Arnette said.
Festivities begin Friday at 6 p.m., with the Sand Band taking the stage at 6:30 and Glow-N-The-Dark Fun Run/Walk kicking off at 7. The petting zoo will be open and food and wine will be available.
Saturday’s events begin at 11 a.m. with The Randy Clay Band, helicopter rides and the zoo, a performance by magician Dave Lucas, along with the craft and food vendors. At 2 p.m. the Boat Rockers will perform.
Admission is free.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.