HAMLET — The Seaboard Festival has chosen an executive board and begun to send out vendor applications, all of which leaves board president Chuck Cobb a bit less anxious than he was when he took over the event in March.
So many past volunteers and vendors want to participate in the 37th edition of the street festival this September, Cobb said Monday, that “things are looking really good.”
“It is (overwhelming taking over such an event) from the standpoint that I didn’t know all the behind-the-scenes things that went into it,” he said. Cobb had worked a few booths and walked the streets as an attendee.
“I’ve never been involved in the past, (but) I’ve always seen the (finished) successful side of things.”
Now, though, Cobb sees the underbelly of the beast that is the celebration of “the Hub of the Seaboard”: the vendors who must be contacted and recruited; the police and firefighters who must be asked to guarantee safety; the committed volunteers who must be wooed.
Recently, the festival board rounded out its executive lineup, choosing former Hamlet City Council member Tony Clewis as vice president; Scotland County Habitat for Humanity director Chris Carpenter as treasurer; and Missy Smith as secretary.
“We rely heavily on those with experience,” Cobb said. This year, for example, Missy Smith’s husband, Duke, once again will organize the Seaboard 5K, and longtime volunteer Jackie Hatfield will encore as organizer of the car show.
The person who has the biggest job at the moment is Diane Mabe, who is sending out vendor applications to those who attended in years past. Responses have been “pretty good” there, too, Cobb said.
“People who have been coming for years” have posted queries on Facebook, and left phone messages for Cobb — whose voice mail is quite frequently full.
The board also “would entertain anything new” to the fest, Cobb said. It wants to bring back local crafters and some “old-comers,” but also has an eye on improvements.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” Cobb said of Seaboard, which last year drew more than 30,000 people, a dip from the previous year. But “it’s such a steady event and been so successful for so many years.
“We have made tremendous strides” trying to repeat that success.
Cobb succeeds longtime Seaboard president Kim Lindsey, who resigned in January, accompanied by her slate of officers.
The past few months of Lindsey’s tenure had found the festival board mired in controversy, with City Council members and volunteers picking sides and slinging insults.
Because the festival board’s nominating committee did not present a slate of candidates in November and because the serving officers all had resigned the subsequent January, festival volunteers dug into their bylaws, electing Cobb president and deciding to choose a full slate of officers when they had attracted more volunteers.
Because Lindsey had dropped off all the paperwork, records and checkbook associated with the festival, “we just turned everything over to him,” Mayor Bill Bayless said of Cobb in March.
The city of Hamlet is host for the festival on its streets — and some city officials attend Seaboard board meetings as ex-officio officers — but the city does not organize the event. Event information and forms may be found on the city’s website, however: www.hamletnc.us/seaboard.html.
Those interested in volunteering may contact the festival board through its Facebook page, “The Seaboard Festival.” They also may try to reach Cobb at 910-995-5966.
Organizers hope to lure back former visitors, as well as former vendors and, possibly, local crafters for this year’s Seaboard Festival.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]