Out in the country you may hear the distant sound of insects buzzing, and you may see them flying around in the air. Soon you can join them.
On Oct. 8, Norman will host its 2nd annual Norman Fest, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One year ago, Kenneth Broadway, who is running for mayor of Norman, had a vision of bringing people out to Norman to enjoy a day in the country with friends. He felt that Norman was a place many people hadn’t seen and didn’t know about. With the Candor Peach Festival in mind, he sought out a theme or a concept for Norman, and realized there was an abundance of gnats. Using the bug’s name, he coined the acronym “Good Neighbors Around Town (GNAT). He hopes people will come out again this year to buzz around with their friends.
“After having lots of positive feedback and the (turn-out) we had, we knew we had to continue,” said Broadway. “Our small town, along with the county, made it a big success last year. There were people here from all over.”
While the planning for the festival was going on, several children in the county were diagnosed with cancers of various kinds. Broadway extended himself to help the Stewart family, good friends of his, when their daughter Taylor was diagnosed with Leukemia. Stewart has since then gone through chemotherapy and endured a successful bone-marrow transplant from an unsuspecting and rare match; her mother.
“(Taylor Stewart) will be out guest of honor,” said Broadway. “I would like to extend the invitation out to the Nunn and Hernandez families, and their schools. If they are able and want to come and have a good time, please do so.”
Gnats fly around, and you can too if you come out to the festival. For $30 you can catch a helicopter ride around Norman.
Reini Grauer, of Charlotte Helicopters, Inc., will be bringing his helicopter to Norman to offer people rides. Grauer does many things, including flying planes for U.S. Airways, but offering helicopter rides is one of his favorite things to do.
“I’m a helicopter enthusiast,” said Grauer. “It’s a side business. It usually is quite a draw, and I enjoy doing it.”
Grauer offers helicopter rides for a variety of reasons. He said some people just want to ride around in the air for fun, or because they have never flown before, and others need to get up into the air for their work, but don’t necessarily want to fly around.
“I always enjoy taking people up for their first time,” he said. “You see the look on their faces; it’s a mixture of joy and fear. And when we land and they get out, they have a wide grin on their faces.”
Grauer is from Bodensee, Switzerland, where he flew gliders for fun. Wanting to pursue a flying career, Grauer came to the United States in 1980 because it was more affordable. He attended flight school in Conway, S.C., and became a corporate pilot. His first job was with Piedmont Airlines, where he worked for 10 years.
The helicopter he will bring is a Robinson 44, and cost in the range of $400,000, which Grauer said is in the “cheap range.” Donald Trump’s helicopter cost $15 million, and his Boeing 757 cost $80 million.
“I got the least expensive one,” laughed Grauer.
His helicopter was made in the USA. It holds the pilot, and three other people, with each seat having a weight limit of 300 pounds. He has offered helicopter rides three times at the Candor Peach Festival.
— Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.