Norman Fest drew a crowd three times the size of last year’s, according to event organizer Kenneth Broadway.
“Norman was a busy place Saturday,” said Broadway. “People came and stayed the whole entire day, stretched out in the grass, chillin’ in lounge chairs, or walking around to see the vendors.”
Bands occupied the stage and kept an upbeat atmosphere while vendors offered hand-crafted pens, children’s toys, decorations and other household items and products.
A helicopter ride, provided by Charlotte Helicopters Inc., “stayed in the air more than on the ground” and “was a thrill for a lot of people,” according to Broadway.
Children could climb on a rock wall, play laser tag inside an inflated UFO, go for pony rides or have feathers tied into their hair. And many children stopped by the booth of the Humane Society to see the puppies. Two puppies went to homes.
Richmond Community College had a booth set up to inform people of the types of services they offer. Representative Jennipher Love said they got good feedback at the booth from people who have graduated from RCC. Love said residents of Norman are requesting that a GED/adult high school class be taught in Norman, as well as computer classes for adults.
“It’s a beautiful day,” said Love. “We are letting people know all the things we have.”
Author Teresa Greene had a booth to promote her fiction books. She had three Civil War-era stories, “Desperate,” “The Shadow,” and “The Dancer.” Her books are filled with mystery, romance, the plight of war and historical research.
The guest of honor at Norman Fest was 13-year-old Taylor Stewart. As planning for last year’s Norman Fest began, Stewart fell ill to leukemia and began to battle the disease. Broadway is a close family friend and gave lots of support during the hardships the family would endure. After a successful bone marrow transplant, with her mother as an unexpected match, the two are closer than ever. Stewart doesn’t let her mother out of her sight, and the two were able to attend Norman Fest this year.
Stewart was given a free helicopter ride with her mother, and the pilot flew them over their property.
“I can see the hay bails in the field,” said Stewart to her mother inside the helicopter.
The pilot took it as a cue and circled around the Stewart’s property. He dove down over the house towards the hay bails, pulled the helicopter up at the last moment, and flew what may have seemed like just inches above the power lines before flying high above Norman and back to the festivities and the gnats.
“It was awesome!” said Stewart with a wide grin. She admitted she was nervous at first, but she had fun on the trip.
For those who enjoyed the past two Norman Fests, “next year’s plan is already in the making,” said Broadway. He hopes to have a classic car show, starting with the ’30s models, up to the ’70s.
“I hope to include more sponsors next year,” said Broadway. “Thanks to the fire and rescue departments, the sheriffs office and all the gnats who helped, we say thank you and see you again next year.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 43, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.