03/27/11 — Fremont in full bloom

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Fremont in full bloom

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on March 27, 2011 1:50 AM

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Children from Fremont Methodist Church Pre-school perform during the annual Fremont Daffodil Festival Saturday.

FREMONT -- An estimated 5,000 people filled the streets of Fremont Saturday for the town's annual 25th Daffodil Festival. Cool temperatures and cloudy skies did little to dampen the atmosphere of the crowd.

"I was extremely pleased we had such a good crowd, even with the weather threatening all day," said Keith Stewart, chairman of the Daffodil Festival Committee. "Overall we were very pleased with how things went and that we were able to get everything in, including the raffle drawings before the rain started."

Early in the day the crowd was treated to performances by children from Fremont Methodist Preschool and kindergartners and first- graders from Fremont STARS Elementary, who sang songs from an upcoming musical.

And like most any fair, food was a big attraction during the day.

The savory selection included shaved ice, barbecue, polish sausages, cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, smoked turkey legs and funnel cakes.

Near the festival's main stage, a group of about 20 people from Church of God of Pinckney worked in an assembly line to create apple jacks, which proved extremely popular with festival-goers.

Jay Barnett prepared the dough. Caren Williford pinched the dough into biscuit-sized pieces, which were rolled flat by her husband, Joey, and Harry Hinson. The flattened dough was then topped with a mixture of apple, cinnamon and sugar and the dough was sealed shut before being dropped into a deep fryer.

The result is a crispy golden-brown treat filled with sweet apple-pie filling.

Mrs. Williford said they expected to sell 1,000 of the confections before the day was over.

Another festival treat was provided by a father-daughter team from Rocky Mount who have worked the same corner of Main Street for nine years, selling fried peanuts and pork skins.

"We also have cracklins," Melissa Winner said, explaining that they are "pork skins with a little more meat on them to make them extra crispy."

While Ms. Winner salted and bagged the peanuts, which cooled in several large pans, her father, David Swanson, tended to cooking the peanuts. He said they attend about 25 festivals a year selling their treats.

"You don't see a lot of fried peanuts like you do funnel cakes," Swanson said. "We have people who come here just looking for us."

While the food was a crowd pleaser, so, too, were the arts and crafts, which organizers attempted to limit to handmade goods from area artists.  Booths lined both sides of Main Street with a wide range of, mostly, handmade goods. The crafts included glassware, jewelry, wood work, key chains, children's clothing, decorated Tupperware, colorful wreaths adorned with fabrics and flowers.

Mixed in with the crafts were many church and civic organizations selling goods for a variety of efforts. For example, members of Fremont Missionary Baptist Church were selling baked goods.

"We are out here raising money and letting people know about our church family," Ms. Yelverton said. "We would like to reach out to new people."

Games and music also kept the crowd busy. Large inflatable, remote control car racing, and cartoon portraits were just some of the attractions.

Inside the Town Hall, the Fremont Garden Club held an exhibit  celebrating the festival's namesake flower.

Garden Club members Ilona Enget and Joanne Mclava were available at the exhibit to share their knowledge about the flower and take questions.

Ms. Enget said the Garden Club is responsible for keeping flowers in the planters on downtown streets, planting trees near Fremont Elementary and planning many town beautification projects.

On display were 14 fresh-cut species of daffodils, all from the Fremont area, Ms. Enget said.

She said there are many types of daffodils that bloom different times of the year.

Mrs. Enget provided some insight on the origin of the festival 25 years ago.

"It is my understanding the festival started as a fund raising event for the Garden Club," she said.

Mrs. Enget praised Fremont residents for supporting the Garden Club throughout the year that allows the club to purchase supplies and, at times, hire labor.

"We have a lot of people in the community that have been very helpful through donations," Mrs. Enget said.

Enjoying the Garden Club's exhibit was Julie Bain, who was visiting from England to see her sons, who live in Wayne County.

"The daffodils are lovely, really very nice," Ms. Bain said.

Ms. Bain praised the festival as being well laid out and full of a variety of activities, music and food.

A dedication ceremony was held at Daffodil Memorial Park to add the names of four people to a memorial that recognizes those who have provide exceptional service to the town. Dub and Lamont Dubberly and Jerry West were added posthumously. West's widow, Audrey West, was also honored.