Seven Springs brings past to life
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on May 9, 2010 1:50 AM
Mattie Staps, 5, and Samantha "Sam" Sutton, 5, race side by side on pedal-power tractors at the Seven Springs Ole Timey Days.
SEVEN SPRINGS -- Visitors to the oldest town in Wayne County got a taste of yesteryear Saturday when the town held its 10th annual Ole Timey Days festival.
Hundreds of people lined Main Street despite the heat, sipping homemade lemonade, listening to gospel bluegrass, looking over vendor booths and admiring vintage tractors, cars and trucks.
The event continued through the day and ended with a street dance Saturday night.
Mark Herring, 79, stood in the shade about noon and recalled the town's history. He said he could remember when the old Seven Springs Hotel was still open. It was a big attraction in this part of the state for the healing waters reported to come from the town's namesake springs. The hotel had a pavilion and a swimming pool, he said.
"People came from all around to drink the water and eat the garden-fresh food," he said. The hotel closed in the early 1940s, he said.
Herring then pointed to an empty store across the street that had belonged to his uncle and noted a location that had once been the site of a drugstore where ice cream sold for a nickel. He said he could remember when there had been a blacksmith shop down by the Neuse River bridge.
The festival was a big day for the children in attendance. The Sudan Mini-Rigs put on a demonstration, then let youngsters get a close-up look at the tiny trucks. Other children rode ponies in the town park or raced pedal-power tractors.
Julius "Spot" Rouse served as the festival's unofficial taxi, driving a white carriage pulled his mule, Dan. He said people like to revisit the old days because it gives them a chance to reconnect with the past.
"Our main goal is to roll the past forward," he said. "We don't want to lose this heritage."
Nadine Cash of the Seven Springs Rescue Squad was busy packing barbecue plates for sale. Members of the town's Fire Department had been up all night cooking the pork.
"We have people come from all over," she said. Then she harkened back to the "good old days."
"It was a better time then than it is now," she said, adding that "Money went a lot farther."
Tim and Sharon Colyer of Dudley came with their son, Aaron, 10. They said they had planned to attend the festival in previous years after seeing news coverage of it but decided this year to mark their calendar to be sure not to miss it. They said the small-town atmosphere was appealing.
"It's simple," Mrs. Colyer said.
Chris Lawson of the Wayne County Museum was manning a table with his mother, Anna. He noted that Seven Springs was founded in 1745, and therefore was one of the earliest settlements in this part of North Carolina, maintaining its position as a regional agricultural hub for centuries.
"We need to keep this history alive, especially for the younger generation," his mother said. "We need to preserve this. No matter how much technology advances, you need to know your roots, where you came from."