05/13/12 — Seven Springs offers up day of old-fashioned fun

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Seven Springs offers up day of old-fashioned fun

By Kelly Corbett
Published in News on May 13, 2012 1:50 AM

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Spot Rouse of Seven Springs drives his steer as it pulls an old steel band wooden wheel tobacco truck down Center Street in Seven Springs during the Old Timey Days festival Saturday. Seven Springs is the oldest town in Wayne County.

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Bob Dougherty carves a Christmas ornament from a piece of wood during the Old Timey Days festival Saturday in Seven Springs.

Jayden Sturgill lined up with a black beanbag in hand, and tossed it several yards to where his competition, his aunt Hannah Thompson-Welch, was standing by her Harley-Davidson raised platform for a friendly game of cornhole.

The two were preparing for the first cornhole tournament at the 12th annual Old Timey Days festival in Seven Springs on Saturday.

Mrs. Thompson-Welch of Deep Run broke away from Girl Scout Troop 979's booth long enough to show her 9-year-old nephew in town from Kentucky how to play the game.

"I'm getting better," Jayden said moments before he took the lead.

About 45 vendors lined the sides of Main Street. The performances took place in the middle of the festival in front of Southern Bank.

Linda Price watched the Spring Creek High School jazz band perform as she remembered back to the day when the whole area was flooded in 1999. She noted how the brick bank was able to retain its structure unlike many of the other staple buildings in town.

Mrs. Price grew up on a farm in the town, left for a little while to live in Goldsboro, then headed back to her hometown.

"We go way back," she said.

This year, she will be attending her 50-year class reunion with her former classmates from the old Seven Springs High School that closed in 1965.

She said there is a lot of history in Seven Springs, the oldest town in Wayne County, and that the purpose of the Old Timey Days festival is to remember one's roots.

"You have family ties and that brings you back," she said. "You have to spread your wings and fly when you're young."

Her daughter, Suzanne Harrell, did the same thing, leaving for Raleigh and later coming back to the town to be close to family.

The family attends the festival almost every year to enjoy the performances, food and crafts with their Saint Bernard Zoey.

For others, the festival was a first, including the crafty members of the Down East Woodturners Association of Kinston.

President Scarlette Rouse made and sold pens in minutes on the spot. She is one of two women in the organization with about 20 members.

Bob Dougherty said woodturning is only a hobby for him, not a way to make money.

He has been woodturning since 2004 and said he made the decision not to sell his items when he retired, because he did not want to be expected to spend a certain amount of time in the shop.

"I kind of do it as a hobby and give it all away," Dougherty said.

He makes bowls, platters and pens. But hollowed Christmas ornaments are his favorite items to create.

Member Dale Overman said many of the pieces being sold on the table were made out of wood found off N.C. 111 after Hurricane Irene came through last summer.

"After a storm, people are always calling me telling me they've got some wood," he said. "I buy very little. Some of the exotics you have to buy."

Cornhole and the dunking booth were located at the end of the festival stretch by Neuse River Trading Co. where owner and festival organizer Ronda Hughes could be found.

She said she was appointed by the town to head the festival this year, and she is ready to see the festival grow in coming years, along with the town with a population of only about 100 people.

"I think we've had a good turnout," Mrs. Hughes said, adding that she expected about the same gradual turnout as last year -- 1,200 people. "I think people are having a good time. People are really loving the carriage rides."

And next year, even more activities will be in store for those who attend.

"There's a lot of ideas, but I want them to be a surprise," Mrs. Hughes said.

But she did say one new thing people could look forward to ... cow pie bingo, a game located in a fenced-in area marked with squares.

"People bet on where the first cow pie's gonna fall," Mrs. Hughes said. "You can't get much more redneck than that."

All the new details and pictures from this year's festival will be on the new town website, sevenspringsnc.com, by the end of June with the help of Mrs. Hughes' husband.

"We really want to see this town grow," Mrs. Hughes said.

The day of the festival was dedicated to Pat Williams, a Seven Springs resident who has helped out a lot in town.