The arrival of spring brings the third annual Mayfest to Dearing, and this year's event has experience on its side, according to Judy Hobbs, the festival chairwoman.
"It's much better this year. The first year was a (learning experience), last year was smooth, and I think this year it's going to be even smoother," she said.
Hobbs derived the idea for the festival three years ago to help the town raise money to renovate the old Dearing gymnasium. Since then, the town has received grant money to renovate the gym, and money from Mayfest is used as the local matching dollars, Mayor Sean Kelley said.
The festival will be from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. May 5, on the property in front of the old Dearing Elementary School on Main Street, about five miles west of Harlem on U.S. 278. Admission is free, and Hobbs said parking will be available at Eubanks Lumber Co. with shuttle service to the festival. No parking will be allowed in front of the school.
The parade of old farm equipment, classic cars and civic group floats will kick off the festival at 9 a.m. The parade will begin at the Eubank ball field. Anyone interested in participating in the parade may call Gladys Rogers at (706) 556-6313.
More than 60 vendors will have booths set up to sell crafts and food, and there will be carnival-type rides and games for the children. Anyone wishing to set up a booth may call Barbara Crisci at (706) 595-9702.
New Dearing items to be sold this year include notepads with pictures of old local buildings, "which are great for grocery lists," Hobbs said. Also new this year is the first in a series of Christmas ornaments.
The medallion-style gold-plated ornament will feature a picture of the old Dearing gym and hangs from a purple ribbon, to signify the colors of the school. Festival committee member Linda Brooks said a price has not been set for the ornament yet, but it should be $10 or less.
An ornament with a picture of the restored gym will be available in 2008, Brooks said, and then ornaments featuring other local landmarks will follow.
"It's what we are anticipating," she said. "I know people are going to think 'why are they using a purple ribbon for Christmas,' but it's because of the school colors."
The 2007 quilt to be raffled is entitled "Precious Memories" and features nine pictures of Dearing houses that are 100 years or older. Hobbs said there will also be a raffle for a new television donated by Badcock.
The burger battle is named in honor of Allene Reeves, who is famous among locals for the hamburgers she sold at her restaurant in downtown Dearing for many years. Kelley won the hamburger cooking contest last year, and said he will do so again this year.
Anyone interested in taking up the mayor on his challenge may call Todd Upchurch at (706) 597-1047.
All proceeds from the festival will go toward the gym renovation. The first two festivals raised approximately $30,000. The renovations are scheduled to be completed by September 2008.
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