RED SPRINGS — Vendors set up shop beneath colorful tents, fry cooks fired up their food trucks, conductors readied an open-air train for passengers and the sounds of flutes and guitars flowed through downtown.
By 10 a.m., the 32nd annual Red Springs Street Festival was in full swing.
On East Third Avenue, funnel cakes and sausage dogs made their way out of the windows of white or brightly colored mobile concession stands while children soared through the air within the screens of a bounce house or flew down an inflatable slide.
A bubble machine propelled soapy spheres across the parking lot of the Community Building and onward to Cross Street, where vendors sold — and created — their crafts.
Beneath one tent, Brandee Feury, of Lumberton, constructed a beaded necklace. She and her mother, Cynthia Hartwell, began creating for their company, Hartwell Jewelry, when Hartwell grew bored when recovering from a broken ankle.
“Now here we are, three years later,” she said.
Across the street sat Micheal Frank, who started placing images onto bottlecaps, and adding hooks to create charms, when he retired from the Marines. Near a spread of caps featuring photos of John Cena and phrases such as “glamour girl” were hairbows and keychains his wife made.
Nearby, Jordan McGirt, a senior at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, set up a makeshift art studio near his booth and people stopped to watch him make colorful patterns with crumbled paper and fling specks of paint at a canvas that would soon resemble a solar system.
People meandered around the Community Building’s parking lot as artists from as far away as Pennsylvania and as near as Pembroke played blues, folk and rock music, and the Triple Toe Cloggers danced to country and pop music. Some sat on bleachers in front of the stage, or grabbed a piece of curb under the lot’s only tree — where Henry McNeill stood and threatened to charge people for shade.
“My price depends on how hot it gets,” he said with a laugh.
On the corner of Main Street and Third Avenue, some lined up to take a short ride through woods, over swamps and by backyard gardens on the Red Springs and Northern open-air rail cars. Others gathered around street performer Jeff Lambden, who juggled and performed magic tricks as children laughed.
“They make believe all the time,” Lamben said of the children. “They live in that realm, and I enjoy being a part of that world.”
Adults visited Southeastern Health’s mobile unit, and a Health Fair inside the Community Building, and gathered information about disease prevention as children stopped to get hearts, flowers or a team mascot painted on their faces.
Miracle Gilmore, 9, after turning a full circle and surveying the landscape, decided getting her name painted on her face was her favorite part of the day.
When asked her favorite part of the festival, Whitney Black didn’t hesitate.
“The food,” she said with a laugh. “But I like everything.”
Abbi Overfelt works for Civitas Media as editor of The St. Pauls Review and The Red Springs Citizen.