Smaller crowd for Seaboard


Hamlet festival draws 25,000

By Christine S. Carroll - christinecarroll@yourdailyjournal.com



Vickie Thomas and James Berry of Cheraw, South Carolina, peruse the goodies at the Woman’s Club of Hamlet table. Linda Ham waits for the two to make their choice among the cookies, cupcakes and pound cake on offer.


“Mountain Mike” Ayers of Maggie Valley uses his chainsaw to sculpt a bear in the parking lot of the Hamlet Library. Crowds gathered all day to watch Ayers, who enthusiastically crafted a pumpkin, a pig and a “consolation prize” bear head for the Friends of the Library raffle in the afternoon.


Cousins Shaidda Griffin, Janira Riley and Anariana Louis of Rockingham show off their identical face paintings Saturday afternoon. The girls — ages 7, 9 and 8, respectively — all had flower-bedecked foreheads and bright orange lips.


Faye Quick, in orange, shepherds a crew of young bakers from the Church of God of Prophecy in Hamlet, whose festival specialty is fried apple pies. By the end of the day, the dough had been expended, but a few apples remained.


Chainsaw artist “Mountain Mike” Ayers hams it up a bit while drawing the winner of a carved bear. The Friends of the Library ran out of raffle tickets for the drawing, and Ayers threw in another carving to help raise money for the library, in whose parking lot he worked.


Clay artist Morgan Harris of High Point fashions a pot Saturday morning. His work included pieces that sported a shiny overall glaze, along with little explosions of crystals.


Nine-year-old Trinity Chambers of Rockingham finally gets the hang of the mechanical bull on her fourth try. “It’s in the hips, baby,” exclaimed the bull’s operator, Russell Evans. “Just roll with it!”


Donna and Brenda Lee of Lee’s Wood Turning in Raeford pack up their unsold bowls and other items as the festival winds down Saturday afternoon. Sales weren’t as good as last year’s, Brenda Lee complained.


The Eastern Sonrise Quartet from Rockingham begins the morning with sprightly gospel tunes, drawing a steady stream of listeners to their stage near the historic Hamlet Depot. Avis and Bobby Bowman stood rapt at the back of the crowd. “I love ‘em,” Avis Bowman said. “Awesome.”


HAMLET — The line for collard sandwiches stretched 20 feet at lunchtime. “Mountain Mike” drew steady crowds to the library parking lot as his chainsaw send wood chips and dust flying. And it seemed that everyone shorter than 4 feet tall carried around a prized inflatable alien or — pardon us — smiling poop emoji.

But vendors this year reported slower sales than at last year’s Seaboard Festival, and crowd estimates were down — 25,000, compared to 2016’s robust 32,000.

“It’s a disappointment,” said Kim Lindsey, past president of the Seaboard Festival board. “You just put on your festival and hope for the best.

“I really don’t have an explanation for the loss of people,” she said Monday, but “I was pleased at the way it turned out. Our goal was to put on a good show, and we did.”

Friends finding friends. Donna and John Pope of North Myrtle Beach staked out a bench in the middle of the food vendors while John tore at his friend turkey leg and Donna looked for people she knew.

The two lived in Rockingham for 48 years before moving 15 years ago and already had found several people with whom they had attended church. Donna ran across an old workmate.

“Everybody comes out and talks together,” she said. “It’s nice fellowship time.”

Down toward the Depot stood a cluster of Hamlet High School graduates sharing stories of their glory days — John Brittingham (1967), Mel Preslar (1961) and Ronnie Crooke (1966).

“The camaraderie of that one school in Hamlet,” Preslar said — “it’s hard to match.” Then he made a crack about how Crooke’s hair looked pretty good for a toupe.

Divine collards. The Rev. Henry Lockett leaned into his sales pitch, extolling the virtues of the collard sandwiches crafted by the ladies of Greater Diggs AME Zion Church.

“There’s a technique to how we cook it,” said Lockett, who appeared to be doing more supervising than cooking. “We do it with a dash of class. We’ve got a better product, and (we) sell it at a cheaper price ($5, as opposed to the $8 down the way). That’s why we run out all the time.”

Darlene Pearce and Danielle Shepherd of Rockingham each ordered a sandwich — collards cooked with hamhocks and bit a bit of sugar for the bitterness, layered inside what Shepherd said were cornmeal hoecakes.

“We’ve been looking for this all day,” Pearce said, clutching her foam to-go container.

Business is picking up. Workers for the city kept the street free of trash all day, homing in on dropped drink lids and napkins.

Firefighters, police and ambulance crews either stood by or strolled the crowds.

The only mishap was a child who bumped his noggin, Lindsey said. A bandage and a sucker fixed that.

Seaboard volunteers had come out at 4:30 a.m. to guide vendors to their spots. Dressed in bright yellow vests, they stood out plainly as they paced Main Street from festival opening to close.

“By 10 (a.m.), I’d already done my 10,000 steps,” said Seaboard vice president Renee Grvybowski. “Last I looked (before the battery on her phone died), I’d done 17,000 steps. It’s hard to sit down.”

The day goes by. At 9:30 a.m., visitors began to trickle onto the streets, some driving their classic cars to the auto show alongside the Depot.

By noon, it was difficult to maneuver. Lines formed at the lemonade and barbecue vendors and held steady through the afternoon. The women selling fried apple pies at the Church of God of Prophecy booth did a brisk business, keeping the eager hands of young church members busy.

At the kids’ area at the old A&P parking lot, children bounced on bungee swings, rode a mechanical bull — some with limited success — and jumped in a bouncy house shaped like Marshall, the firefighter from Paw Patrol.

Things slowed down mid- to late afternoon, as teens roamed the streets, eating and bouncing basketballs.

At the library at a tardy 4:30, Mike Ayers drew the names of those who would win his 3-foot and 1-foot chainsaw-carved bears. Though the parking lot was packed with raffle ticket-holders, neither winner was in the crowd.

Late-comers lined up for the last food servings before 5, when vendors began boxing up their wooden bowls, baskets and cheese boards.

At 5:30, pickups with trailers and loading ramps began lining the streets once crowded with people.

And at 6:15 p.m. — the deadline for the last vendor to vacate the street — a traditional Saturday quiet settled over downtown Hamlet.

Vickie Thomas and James Berry of Cheraw, South Carolina, peruse the goodies at the Woman’s Club of Hamlet table. Linda Ham waits for the two to make their choice among the cookies, cupcakes and pound cake on offer.
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_sbf17_booth.jpgVickie Thomas and James Berry of Cheraw, South Carolina, peruse the goodies at the Woman’s Club of Hamlet table. Linda Ham waits for the two to make their choice among the cookies, cupcakes and pound cake on offer.

“Mountain Mike” Ayers of Maggie Valley uses his chainsaw to sculpt a bear in the parking lot of the Hamlet Library. Crowds gathered all day to watch Ayers, who enthusiastically crafted a pumpkin, a pig and a “consolation prize” bear head for the Friends of the Library raffle in the afternoon.
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_sbf17_chainsaw.jpg“Mountain Mike” Ayers of Maggie Valley uses his chainsaw to sculpt a bear in the parking lot of the Hamlet Library. Crowds gathered all day to watch Ayers, who enthusiastically crafted a pumpkin, a pig and a “consolation prize” bear head for the Friends of the Library raffle in the afternoon.

Cousins Shaidda Griffin, Janira Riley and Anariana Louis of Rockingham show off their identical face paintings Saturday afternoon. The girls — ages 7, 9 and 8, respectively — all had flower-bedecked foreheads and bright orange lips.
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_sbf17_facepaint.jpgCousins Shaidda Griffin, Janira Riley and Anariana Louis of Rockingham show off their identical face paintings Saturday afternoon. The girls — ages 7, 9 and 8, respectively — all had flower-bedecked foreheads and bright orange lips.

Faye Quick, in orange, shepherds a crew of young bakers from the Church of God of Prophecy in Hamlet, whose festival specialty is fried apple pies. By the end of the day, the dough had been expended, but a few apples remained.
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_sbf17_foodprep.jpgFaye Quick, in orange, shepherds a crew of young bakers from the Church of God of Prophecy in Hamlet, whose festival specialty is fried apple pies. By the end of the day, the dough had been expended, but a few apples remained.

Chainsaw artist “Mountain Mike” Ayers hams it up a bit while drawing the winner of a carved bear. The Friends of the Library ran out of raffle tickets for the drawing, and Ayers threw in another carving to help raise money for the library, in whose parking lot he worked.
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_sbf17_jar.jpgChainsaw artist “Mountain Mike” Ayers hams it up a bit while drawing the winner of a carved bear. The Friends of the Library ran out of raffle tickets for the drawing, and Ayers threw in another carving to help raise money for the library, in whose parking lot he worked.

Clay artist Morgan Harris of High Point fashions a pot Saturday morning. His work included pieces that sported a shiny overall glaze, along with little explosions of crystals.
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_sbf17_pottery.jpgClay artist Morgan Harris of High Point fashions a pot Saturday morning. His work included pieces that sported a shiny overall glaze, along with little explosions of crystals.

Nine-year-old Trinity Chambers of Rockingham finally gets the hang of the mechanical bull on her fourth try. “It’s in the hips, baby,” exclaimed the bull’s operator, Russell Evans. “Just roll with it!”
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_sbf17_rodeo.jpgNine-year-old Trinity Chambers of Rockingham finally gets the hang of the mechanical bull on her fourth try. “It’s in the hips, baby,” exclaimed the bull’s operator, Russell Evans. “Just roll with it!”

Donna and Brenda Lee of Lee’s Wood Turning in Raeford pack up their unsold bowls and other items as the festival winds down Saturday afternoon. Sales weren’t as good as last year’s, Brenda Lee complained.
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_sbf17_woodbowls.jpgDonna and Brenda Lee of Lee’s Wood Turning in Raeford pack up their unsold bowls and other items as the festival winds down Saturday afternoon. Sales weren’t as good as last year’s, Brenda Lee complained.

The Eastern Sonrise Quartet from Rockingham begins the morning with sprightly gospel tunes, drawing a steady stream of listeners to their stage near the historic Hamlet Depot. Avis and Bobby Bowman stood rapt at the back of the crowd. “I love ‘em,” Avis Bowman said. “Awesome.”
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_sbf17stage.jpgThe Eastern Sonrise Quartet from Rockingham begins the morning with sprightly gospel tunes, drawing a steady stream of listeners to their stage near the historic Hamlet Depot. Avis and Bobby Bowman stood rapt at the back of the crowd. “I love ‘em,” Avis Bowman said. “Awesome.”
Hamlet festival draws 25,000

By Christine S. Carroll

christinecarroll@yourdailyjournal.com

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.

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