03/26/06 — Fremont goes to daffodils

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Fremont goes to daffodils

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on March 26, 2006 2:02 AM

FREMONT -- Event organizer Keith Stewart knows the annual Fremont Daffodil Festival is dependent on one factor for success -- the weather.

The annual festival didn't have much sunshine with which to welcome in spring Saturday, but the temperatures held steady and the rain stayed away.

"If the sun comes out, then we can hope for 7,000 to 8,000 people to come here today," he said.

Just as the words escaped his lips, the sun made its first appearance of the morning. Although the sun would continue to play hide and seek throughout the day, thousands of people showed up to enjoy the 20th annual Daffodil Festival.

Whether that meant taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through town, listening to musical performers or shopping, people of all ages could find something to keep them busy.

Many spectators just walked throughout Fremont to enjoy the site of hundreds of blooming daffodils.

Most of those who attended the festival Saturday converged on Main Street, where they could buy freshly roasted peanuts, toys, clothes and ornaments. Over the speakers, music from performers accompanied festival visitors as they moved from stand to stand.

Around the corner on Sycamore Street, even more food was for sale, including homemade apple jacks, hot dogs, hamburgers, bratwurst and ice cream. Down the street, children were dragging their parents and grandparents to Children's Alley, so they could partake in the rock-climbing wall, the giant slide and remote-controlled racing.

"I've been here every year since this has started. I think they have a bigger variety of things to do," Anne Ballance May said.

Mrs. May, who was born and raised in Fremont, said she never misses the opportunity to travel from her home in Greenville to come to the festival. As the years have gone by, her daughter and granddaughters have gotten the chance to enjoy the Daffodil Festival as much as she has.

This year, she watched as one granddaughter, Jennifer, 10, climbed to the top of the rock-climbing wall. In addition to mountain-climber, Jennifer also held title of top shopper for the family. Her mother, Mary Jon Pabst, said Jennifer's sisters Jessica, 6, and Samantha, 3, were just as excited to see what else the festival had to offer.

The first musical performers of the day, the Charles B. Aycock High School Jazz Ensemble, performed many jazz standards to accompany the festival's hustle and bustle.

"I think they are one of the best. They're excellent. I listen to them anytime I get a chance to," Goldsboro resident Polly Smith said.

Sitting on the sidewalk near the stage, Mrs. Smith listened intently as the group announced their next selection -- "Can't Give You Anything."

"You see -- they're playing my tunes," she said.

Other musical acts during the festival were the Fremont Stars, The Embers and The Monitors.

Mayor Devone Jones said this time of year is something the entire town of Fremont enjoys.

"I look forward to it because the people that come here have so much fun. They also get to see the ways our town has changed," Jones said.

Although the event is intended to bring joy to people of all ages, the festival opened this year on a somber note with the Fremont Memorial Park recognition. The names on the monument were James and Julia Bender, Ben Reid Jr., Ben and Rachel Peacock, Jim Hooks, Jesse and Jessie Stewart, Johnnie and Mildred Lancaster and Dick and Sylvia Whitley.

"We were extremely pleased that the families of all of the people on the memorial and the others honored were here," Keith Stewart said. "It was extremely moving."

And although the weather remained less than springlike, Jones wasn't worried.

"(The crowd) just keeps getting bigger and bigger as the day tries to warm up," Jones said.