Norman Fest ‘a homecoming’ for many

5th annual festival set for Oct. 10-Oct. 11

By Kevin Spradlin

The countryside is serene. Sitting along an overpass of U.S. Highway 220 one weekday afternoon , only the noise of the occasional passerby — an SUV loaded with gear for the beach, a tractor tractor full of cars headed to a dealership — interrupt what is otherwise an area as quiet as a mouse.

Photo by Kevin Spradlin  The speed limit is a little slower than usual during Norman Fest.

Photo by Kevin Spradlin
The speed limit is a little slower than usual during Norman Fest.

That’s true for the routine of the folks in Norman 364 days of the year. But for one Friday evening and one Saturday each year, Norman transforms into a budding metropolis through Norman Fest. For many, the second weekend in October is a good weekend to come home to Richmond County’s northernmost incorporated town — one that, this year, enters its second century of existence. The town turned 100 in 2013 and celebrated with custom merchandise at last year’s festival.

It’s a key reason why Dan Bennett, president of Ellerbe Telephone Internet, continues to support the night-and-day festival through his business.

“We’ve helped out since the beginning, since the very first one,” Bennett said. “Norman is in our service territory. We like to help the community. We get the stage from the city of Rockingham for the bands to perform on.”

Some logistical aid, along with a financial contribution, helps set the stage, so to speak, for more than 2,000 visitors to enter the town of Norman: Population 138.

Credit for the event goes to Norman Mayor Kenneth Broadway and his merry band of volunteers, which includes his wife. The event, which includes craft vendors, live music, a classic car cruise-in, pony rides, a magic show, bounce houses, helicopter rides, a variety of food vendors and more, aims to serve as a “welcome home” of sorts for those who have moved away but still have time to come back once a year.

“He does a good job with it,” Bennett said. “The thing keeps getting bigger every year. For some people, it’s almost like a homecoming. A lot of people come back to visit family and friends, sit out there on the grass and listen to the bands.”

“It brings the community together,” Bennett said. “People get to know their neighbors a little bit better.”

Broadway agreed that with good weather, Norman Fest “uplifts the people around the town. The two convenience stores, they do very well that weekend.”

The five members of the Biscoe-based Tri-County Bluegrass Band will help kick off the 5th annual Norman Fest this year. Members of the Norman Methodist Church will host a spaghetti dinner beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and the music begins at 7 p.m. Along with the band, the Scottish Twirlers are expected to perform.

After Friday night’s kickoff, Saturday morning’s activities begin at 8:30 a.m. with the inaugural GNAT Scat 10K run/walk. Race-day registration, including walkers and cyclists, begins at 7:30 a.m. at Norman Methodist Church.

Broadway said staging the event is a year-round effort. He attends a wide variety of events in the region to take notes of good ideas, and bad, and to recruit vendors for Norman Fest. The hard work seems to have paid off. At this point last year, Norman Fest had between 35 and 40 vendors pre-registered. About 30 showed on event day. This year, more than 60 vendors are pre-registered.

Live bands expected to perform include Wayard Reason, a country music group, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the Sand Band, a beach music and blues team, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Back again this year are the chainsaw artists from Woodpecker Products, of Rockwell. Under a tent, each year a master artist carves a block of wood into a piece of art in front of an engaged audience.

Food vendors include Millstone Men BBQ, Jimmy Warner with his collard sandwiches and walking tacos, Wind Blow Smurfs will have fried chicken, American Vets will cook up hamburgers and hot dogs and Vegetable Foods will offer funnel cakes, cotton candy, candied apples, deep-fried dill pickles and deep-fried oreos.

Along with The Pee Dee Post and Ellerbe Telephone Internet, other Norman Fest sponsors include Duke Energy, 770 AM Big Wave, Pee Dee Electric, G104FM, Allen Brothers Timber, Coltrane Signs, Dorsett Printing and Richmond County Tourism Development Authority.


Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors

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