Seven Springs remembers 'old days'
By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 11, 2014 1:50 AM
Rhonda Jackson and Joe Price enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn buggy Saturday during Old Timey Days in Seven Springs.
SEVEN SPRINGS -- Standing in the shade of a large old tree and cooled by a steady spring breeze, Thurman Herring, 72, said he could close his eyes and easily recall the days before air conditioning.
Herring, of Mount Olive, and others had gathered Saturday morning under the tree to listen to an old-time bluegrass band playing on the porch of a house located just yards away from the banks of the Neuse River.
"(Cool shade and music) is like icing on the cake. This is more like old timey days might have been," he said.
Paying tribute to those times gone by is what Saturday's 14th annual Ole Timey Days celebration was all about.
Herring is very familiar with the community and its people. He served on the town's rescue squad years ago.
"It is a good little town with good, friendly people," he said. "I always come. In fact, several years ago I helped cook the pigs. It is a good nice town. It is just a shame it hasn't grown back since the (1999 Hurricane Floyd) flood."
What has grown is the festival -- from just 25 vendors a few years ago to more than 100 on Saturday lining both sides of Main Street from N.C. 55 to the Neuse River Bridge.
One of the first events of the day was the dedication of a plaque in memory of Ola Mae Adams, who first came up with the idea for the festival. It was presented to her family.
The day itself was dedicated to Gaynell and Morris Carmack.
"They are always willing to come help cut the grass at the park," said town Commissioner Ronda Hughes, one of the driving forces behind the event. "If we ask for anything, they jump right in and help.
"We have a lot of good people in this community, and people don't mind helping you. It is a wonderful town."
The volunteers helped the town, which doesn't have a public works department, to clean up the area before the festival.
A pageant kicked off the day at 9 a.m., and a barbecue cookoff started at 10 a.m. at the Seven Springs Fire Station.
A horseshoe competition was held in a nearby field.
The festival wound down about 3 p.m., but kicked back up again with a street dance from 7 to 11 p.m.
New this year were free dental screenings for children being done in the Colgate Van.
There was entertainment as well and an enlarged and separate area just for children where they could ride horses, pet rabbits or play on an inflatable.
A train made of out barrels and pulled by a lawn tractor was a favorite of the children.
There was a display of vintage farm equipment, another of Civil War artifacts that had been found in the county, and a collection of old tools, photos and school items including a Seven Springs High School cap.
The items weren't for sale, but did generate a lot of interest and comments.
A few candidates for elected office set up booths as well.
But for Wyatt Aycock, 9, of Fremont the old tractors, particularly a vintage Farmall, and the orange-favored cup of ice he was slurping down were the hands-down favorites.
Wyatt was at the event with younger brother, Wade, and their grandparents, Nannette and Phillip Aycock. It was the first time they had attended the festival.
"We like anything old-timey," she said. "We like history."
"So far it has been really good," Wyatt said. "Now I have a brain freeze."
Wyatt couldn't decide what he wanted to do next, but quickly agreed when his grandfather suggested another look at the tractors.
While festival-goers were busy having a good time, Ms. Hughes was busy running from one end of town to the other, dealing with last-minute issues as they cropped up.
Planning for the event is ongoing and requires a lot of phone calls, she said.
"We try to let people know today when we will have it next year, to kind of pencil us in," Ms. Hughes said. "Then we start in December actually getting our list together so that we can start sending out application packets for the vendors.
"About the end of January, or the first of February, we start calling people."
Ms. Hughes, who has worked with the event for three years, said town officials have played a vital part in the group effort to organize the festival.
"This year we actually had a meeting open to the public to see if the community wanted to suggest something -- to try to get the community's input on what it would like to have," she said. "We are the oldest town in Wayne County, and we want it to stay that way. We are starting to collect some information and next year we are hoping we can have a history ride where we can take people through town and tell them about some of the historical sites."