The third annual Norman Fest is just around the corner and Norman Mayor Kenneth Broadway said he is building on the success of the previous years.
“With fall in the air, so is the making of the fest,” said Broadway. “The Norman GNATS are busy as can be. We have already encountered close to three times as many vendors as the previous year. I have vendors from as far as Myrtle Beach, Sanford, over toward Charlotte and all the ones close to home.” The festival unfolds in one week.
GNATS first became the mascot of the Norman Fest when Broadway and his planning committee searched for something Norman had an abundance of. They decided they had plenty of gnats, and the acronym could stand for “Good neighbors around town.”
New to the event this year will be a classic car show and cornhole challenge.
Musical entertainment has been one focal point of the Norman Fest during the first two years. Two bands enjoyed by many in Richmond County will take the stage.
“Richmond County’s very own Eastern Seaboard band (will perform) with a guest and will be opening for the Carolina Beach Music Awards nominated Sand Band,” said Broadway. “The sound will be provided by S.A. Pro Audio.”
With classic cars filling the field, one is sure to stand out to Mayberry fans; a 1964 Ford Galaxy replica of the Andy Griffith Sheriff patrol car owned by Jeff Branch of Oakboro. The Ford is his only classic car, said Branch, who got a hold of it through his Andy Griffith Show re-enactments. He is a Howard Sprague look-alike.
“I’m a tribute artist, that’s how I got the car,” said Branch. “It’s a replica; all the real ones are in a museum in California.”
Branch, a full-time Lieutenant with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and a D.A.R.E. officer, travels with other tribute artists in his spare time.
“We’ve worked with the original cast,” said Branch. “We go all over. We just did Mayberry Days in Mt. Airy and we do other states, too. We’ll be doing the Bahamas soon, with a Carnival Cruise. We dress up and do autographs. It’s just a lot of Mayberry fun.”
Branch said he won’t be able to attend the Norman Fest, but his friend will be bringing the car.
From 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Oct. 13, the field beside Norman will see a crowd gather with lawn chairs and food to listen to music, buy local crafts, ride in a helicopter or take part in the car show. The event is kid friendly and there will be plenty for children to do, according to Broadway.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.