03/31/13 — Fremont welcomes spring, daffodils Saturday

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Fremont welcomes spring, daffodils Saturday

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 31, 2013 1:50 AM

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Sporting a hat and necklace of daffodils, Sylvia Overman discusses her role participating in the multiple committees that have helped organize the Daffodil Festival since its beginnings.

FREMONT -- "Awesome. Ummmm," Paige Varney, 9, exclaimed as she took a bite of her funnel cake, her movements sending powdered sugar cascading all the way down to her colorful boots. Hearing her excitement, older sister Jayda, 10, walked over and pulls off a piece and swirled it in the sugar.

Her reaction was the same.

Neither cared that their faces and clothes were streaked with the white powder. Like everyone else at the 27th annual Daffodil Festival they were enjoying the mild weather and downtown jam-packed with food, entertainment and activities.

Both girls were helping their mother, Amber Varney, who was selling her homemade earrings and earring holders in front of Barrows Antiques on Main Street.

Mrs. Varney, whose husband is stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, began making the earrings as a hobby about a year ago. Her favorite are those made out of guitar picks.

"This is my first time (at the festival," she said. "It is really neat. I haven't got a chance to walk around yet, but it is pretty cool. My girls are helping out with a Relay for Life raffle. I make them just to make them because they are fun. I really love my guitar picks. They are different."

"My grandma is going to take us all around this whole thing," Paige said. "I like funnel cakes. This isn't my first time having one."

And she hinted that she might try to convince her mother to get another to carry home.

The crowd had already gathering well before the announced 10 a.m. start. But that was fine by Keith Stewart, a member of the Daffodil Committee, who had been keeping an eye on the weather.

"We bring in all of this entertainment, and people are always asking me during the year, 'Who are you going to have this year? Are the Embers coming back?'" he said. "What I want to see come back is the sunshine, because if the sunshine comes back we are going to have a crowd.

"It is one of the first festivals of the year and I think people, particularly this year, are ready to get out. We are all kind of tired being holed up and suffering from the cold weather. A beautiful day like today and you have to be outside."

Most of the crowd was expected when the Embers took the stage from noon until 2 p.m., but Stewart was pleased with the early turnout.

"For us to have this many people this early on, it is one of the best years ever so far," he said.

Stewart also was pleased with the vendor turnout -- there was only one no show.

"The children are a big part of the festival," he said. "What we show for is family and that is the whole idea with the children's alley and having the preschool and elementary school perform. It is geared to family.

"It is really a quality of life thing. Communities need something where we all get together. We get together maybe as churches during the week, but as an entire community drawing us all together, we all live here, lets get out and enjoy the day together."

Tony Jones and his brother Ray Jones of Fremont were helping their mother, Geraldine Jones, and the Silver Blossom Order of the Eastern Star with their barbecue chicken fundraising.

"We started this morning about 6:30 and we are going to cook until it is over," Tony Jones said. "We get great response. People are looking for us every year. The smell and the cakes and the skins, that all attracts them. Everything is homemade."

"We like doing this because we raise money for our organization to give back to the community, especially at Christmas time for the needy," Mrs. Jones said. "We enjoy it. It is fun we get to see our friends. We have friends coming from everywhere today."

It takes about "three good days" to prepare for the day of the festival, she said.

"And I mean three good days," she said. My mama (Lula Smith) used to do it (homemade skins) and she will be 92 tomorrow and we are giving her a big birthday party.

The festivities also included a brief ceremony to unveil the addition of Thomas Jones' name to the town monument. Jones's widow, Pearlie Jones, and family were on hand for the ceremony.

"These are people who have a significant contributions to our town," Stewart said. "Most of them have here a significant amount of time and some of the continue to live here. There are people who have been very important in our community either trough civic work or business work or church work or in some cases all of the above. In that vein we are honoring Mr. Thomas Jones today.

"Mr. Thomas' life was about living for God, living for family and enjoying the community that he was in. He worked hard. I think one of the things that he instilled in all of his children was a desire and recognition that you need to work. That you need to get a good education and that you need to serve God. What more could you ask? I think his children have borne that out pretty doggone well."

As a black man growing up in the 1920 it was difficult for Jones and something that most people today will "never walk in those shoes," Stewart said.

But for a man to succeed as he did in both business and family life it is remarkable. I am proud to have known him. I'm glad to have his family here today."

"I think it is nice. I sure do," said Mrs. Jones, who is 88. "I plan to stay a while and enjoy coming to the festival looking at things. And if I want to buy anything then I buy it."