03/30/08 — Daffodils Festival draws hundreds despite weather

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Daffodils Festival draws hundreds despite weather

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on March 30, 2008 2:02 AM

FREMONT -- The rain might have helped the daffodils, but it also kept crowds from thinking spring in Fremont Saturday afternoon.

The 22nd annual Daffodil Festival began with warmer weather, but as the day went on, those attending the festival covered up their long-sleeve shirts with sweatshirts, coats, scarves and gloves.

And as the rain came pouring down and the smell of funnel cakes, turkey legs and hamburgers filled the air, many kept hoping the Sun would shine down on what was supposed to be the biggest festival yet.

Still, more than 300 people gathered on Fremont's Main and Sycamore streets even as the sky turned darker and the weather cooled.

Some wouldn't miss it for the world.

It is a tradition, they say, a sort of mark in the year for when winter weather stops, and when spring weather begins -- at least that's how it usually goes.

They are the ones who can't remember how many years they have walked Fremont's streets looking at the beautiful yellow and white flowers, but they do remember all of the friends they see along the way.

Eureka's Kay Rose, 66, and Frances Sauls, 86, are two of those people. They can't quite recall how many festivals they have attended.

All they know is that it is a part of their springtime calendar every year.

They said they weren't going home either, despite the wet and chilly weather. Instead, they just filled up on hot chocolate and apple jacks to keep them warm.

"We just like coming out and seeing people," Ms. Rose said. "There are a lot more people here than we expected with the rain."

Former Fremont police Chief W.T. Kilpatrick is another one of those who have become staples of the festival.

As he sat on the side of Main Street underneath an awning, he couldn't say how many times he has been to the celebration, but he said he has been at many, if not all.

"What year is the festival in?" he asked. "22? That's just about right. But it's usually much nicer weather."

For others, like Kilpatrick's friend Joann Price, the festival is a fairly new activity.

"This is her first year here," Kilpatrick said. "I am trying to break her in to it."

But as soon as Ms. Price stepped foot onto the festival's streets, she knew exactly what keeps her friend coming back year after year.

"It's the food," she said with a smile.

"Yeah, the food. You need to go get an apple jack and have some fried peanuts," he said.

He also comes to see the people.

"I like to watch the people, how they act, how they walk, how they dress," he said as he looked on toward a man dressed as a cowboy, walking on stilts. "Like that man right there."

For some, it was a time to come out and spend time with friends and family.

Debbie and Gabby Glover and Bryson Bass traveled from Wilson to take part in the festival, and although they knew it was probably going to pour, they came anyway.

"We just came to have a good time," Gabby and Bryson said.

Of course, they were also fans of the hot chocolate and the peanuts.

But for one, Grace Mooring, 7, the festival isn't something new. It is something that she is an expert on.

"She was born and raised in Fremont," her mother, Catherine, said, as she pinched her little girl's smiling cheeks.

And Grace will tell you she hasn't missed one yet. This was her seventh year at the festival.

"I just come to have fun," she said.

But this year, she had one specific thing on her mind -- the N.C. State football helmet that was being raffled off.

"I really want to win that helmet," she said.

For the vendors, it was a time to see their friends and to give them something to eat.

Just about everyone in the crowd gathered at Princeton's Church of God stand, at least once throughout the day, to buy an apple jack, a festival favorite.

Cindy Mooring, the church's fundraising coordinator, said it was the church's fifth year coming out to the festival.

"We have a lot of fun and fellowship, and we do it to raise funds," she said.

This year, church members are hoping to move their church from Princeton to Fremont, a project that only the Daffodil Festival, and their delicious apple jacks, could help them do, she said.