04/05/14 — Thousands attend Daffodil Festival

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Thousands attend Daffodil Festival

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on April 5, 2014 11:08 PM

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Sloane Sauls, 6, watches her cousin, Mason Pippin, 5, eat a deep fried onion on a bench during the Daffodil Festival in downtown Fremont Saturday. Mason didn't want to share.

FREMONT -- Fremont United Methodist Church's preschoolers' performance might have been more about cuteness than proficiency.

At 4 years old, singing is a sort of controlled yelling and dancing looks more like random muscle contractions.

But make no mistake, the opening act of the 28th annual Daffodil Festival sure knew how to draw crowd. Parents and relatives pulled out cellphones, fought the glare of the mid-morning sun and recorded another memory, one of the many that were made that day.

This Saturday, Fremont and its families lined Main Street for another successful festival celebrating the yellow flower most often associated with the arrival of spring.

"It's a tremendous day," Fremont Mayor Darron Flowers said. "You can barely get down the street because of all the people here."

The weather helped with the turnout. Hovering just around 70 degrees, Flowers said that this year's festival weather had been the best in the last four years, and moving the festival's date up a week had been a good choice.

Festival co-chairman Keith Stewart said the move didn't cause too many problems for the festival overall. The traditional entertainment by the Embers had to be canceled because of the date change -- the Embers were already booked before the decision to move the date. Instead, the festival brought in the Fantastic Shakers, a beach band based out of Lincolnton, to fill in the gap.

Other problems, like missing vendors and the need for a different company to provide children's rides, were also taken care of quickly enough to not have an effect on the festival or its turnout.

"We were lucky enough to be able to fill them in," Stewart said.

"We are fortunate to have different committee members and the co-chairman working for us so many consecutive years. They've been involved forever, and they know to work things out. It works like clockwork," Flowers said.

For those attending the festival, the Fremont tradition is a way for residents to see those they don't normally see.

The 2001 Miss Daffodil, Jordan Webb, usually ends up at the festival each year, although she admits she has missed a few. For a brief time early in the day, she was able to get up on stage with some of her fellow former Miss Daffodils. At 29, she was the oldest, but she still remembers what it meant to be named the festival's representative.

"As a little girl, Little Miss Daffodil was the big thing," she said.

Sylvia Overman, as one of the first charter members of the festival, hasn't missed one of the 28 the community has logged so far.

"It's such a beautiful day," she said. "I just love being able to get to see that people I don't see every day. I see friends from high school, back in the dark ages."

Mrs. Overman, 77, also dresses for the occasion. She has been wearing her signature daffodil hat for nearly 30 years.

"It's falling apart," she said.

She said she makes repairs and covers the holes with more daffodils.

A short way down Sycamore Street, the Fremont Police Department and Fremont Police Chief Paul Moats Jr. were getting ready for corn hole.

For the second year, the competition drew corn hole enthusiasts who were sinking bag after bag in practice before the competition's official start. The event also helped bring awareness to the police department's community work of updating J.R. Peele Park's ballfields.

Through sponsors and a large donation from the Hooks family, the town of Fremont will be able to update the local park with new electronic scoreboards, a batting cage, a pitcher's mound and an updated roof on the concessions building. The work should be finished in the next few weeks.

"We're trying to give kids ballfields that they can be proud of," Moats said.

Future plans call for an updated back fence, updated grass, dugouts and landscaping.

"It's going to be a long process," he said.

As for corn hole, the police department doesn't get any money for holding the event.

"We're not making any money. It is so people can enjoy the festivities and maybe get a pay out."

Corn hole can also help attract people to festivals. Moats said players have come from Cary or farther just to get a chance at winning. Last year, the tournament had 14 teams competing. Top winners can potentially gain $1,000 from the tournament if a healthy number of teams take part.

Beside winning money, traveling corn hole players also get the chance to see Fremont.

"We've got a small town to be proud of, and we got an opportunity to show it off," Flowers said.