11/05/04 — Feast in the East deemed a success

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Feast in the East deemed a success

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on November 5, 2004 2:00 PM

A weekend of entertainment and barbecue attracted about 5,000 people to the first Feast in the East festival at the Wayne Regional Fairgrounds.

Some of the attendees were from outside of North Carolina, said Marlise Taylor, director of Golds-boro Travel and Tourism.

She said she spoke with one person from Idaho who was traveling on Interstate 95 when he stopped at an N.C. welcome center, picked up a calendar of events and found out about the festival.

There were other visitors from South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, she said.

She cited the festival's economic effect: "It is money ... that would not have come here if it were not for this festival."

"Several of the local hotels had 'Feast In The East' special packages and sold quite a few of them during the week," she added.

"All of the entertainment was very well received. In fact, the two impersonators signed autographs for over half an hour after their performances," said Ms. Taylor.

The festival centered around the barbecue cook-off held by the Arts Council of Wayne County. Over 750 pounds of barbecue pork were sold by early Saturday afternoon. Proceeds benefited the Arts Council.

Cooking demonstrations by the "Wok Wiz" used local farm produce and market meats including farm-raised prawns.

"I would love to return next year to do more cooking demonstrations of stir-fry delights using local farm raised shrimp, vegetables, barbecue pork and chicken to introduce Chinese cooking to Wayne County," said Shirley Fong-Torres, the "Wok Wiz" chef.

Ms. Taylor said it was hard to tell how much money was raised overall because there were so many organizations and vendors involved. The goal was for the festival committee to break even, and she said it did.

"I think it was a tremendous success," said Patty Graham with the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce. "This event could not happen without all the volunteers, cookers and vendors. They are the reason it was so successful. A special thanks goes to the Wayne County Livestock Development Association for advice and assistance in making this event happen."

"The president of the N.C. Festival and Special Events Association attended the event and said this festival was way ahead of most festivals, because it was well-planned and organized and the event has the potential to become one of the largest for Wayne County," said Howard Scott, director of the Wayne County Cooperative Extension, who helped organize the event.

Ms. Taylor said the first festival laid the groundwork for a successful annual event. She and others are analyzing how it went and will decide what worked well and what needs to be improved.

"It exceeded my expectations. The potential for something really special is there," said Goldsboro Mayor Al King, who issued a challenge for all other mayors and town councils in Wayne County to compete in the pork barbecue cook-off in 2005.