A world of imagination, entertainment at Autumn Jubilee

  • Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2013 11:34 p.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, October 6, 2013 12:24 a.m.
Brody Benfield picks out a ‘wishing stone’ from ‘Flit the Fairy,’ a.k.a. Ryan Paige, at Autumn Jubilee.
Brody Benfield picks out a ‘wishing stone’ from ‘Flit the Fairy,’ a.k.a. Ryan Paige, at Autumn Jubilee.

Thousands descended on Autumn Jubilee at Dan Nicholas Park — filling the fields and pathways on a Saturday that felt more like June than October.

It was a day for music, games and fun, and a day for imagination.


Imagining, for example, the favorite figures of the past coming back ­— Elvis coming out onto stage once more, performing his signature hits.

Or, the classic characters of Mayberry made famous on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Rowan County Parks & Recreation Director Don Bringle said the festival is a success because of this classic formula.

He estimated “between 15,000 and 20,000” in attendance on Saturday, with as many more likely to attend today.

Autumn Jubilee opens at 10 a.m. today, with live entertainment on stage at 11 a.m.

Games and log-sawing are scheduled for 2 p.m., and there will be a running series of activities for kids.

“It’s family-friendly,” said Laura Benfield, of Granite Quarry. She and husband Shane brought their sons, Brody and Tatum, out to the festival.

“And the food is awesome,” Shane added. Asked to name his favorite, he said, “Meat on a stick.”

No matter what kind.

“And it’s great for all the locals to be able to come out and see the crafts,” Laura said.

Meanwhile, Brody — age 31/2 — had wandered over to one of the vendor booths, where he met a fairy named Flit.

Flit and his companion, Frolic, represent Monster Hat Island — where crocheted hats with playful eyes and faces waited to be “adopted,” each with its own name and backstory.

“Would you like some fairy dust?” Flit asked Brody. He nodded, solemnly, and (after being warned to shut his eyes), was dusted with glitter.

“Now, no flying around!” Frolic warned. “You’ll get stuck up in the trees, here.”

Flit and Frolic are better known as Ryan and Aura Paige, of Cary. Monster Hat Island is their concept for selling handmade hats.

They said they were inspired by their daughter, who didn’t want to wear a hat but was glad to do so when it was given eyes and a personality.

“It’s not a hat, it’s a friend,” Aura said, standing by a table of hats of varying shapes and colors. “It’s a toy you wear on your head.”

The Paiges said they found out about Autumn Jubilee via the Internet. “So far, it’s really nice,” Aura said.

“A huge amount of foot traffic,” Ryan added.

The turnout, and the planning that emphasizes handmade crafts, were what several vendors said made the visit worthwhile for them.

At the Buttercup’s Bottlecaps booth, Amanda “Buttercup” McCorkle and Abby, her daughter, were starting their own crocheting projects.

Amanda sells pendants and other accessories from painted bottlecaps, recycled and decorated Scrabble game tiles and more.

Abby, meanwhile, helps out by making handmade bracelets out of nylon parachute cord, a favorite of survivalists and others.

“It’s the people you meet,” Amanda said when asked why she enjoys Autumn Jubilee.

Not only do they get to meet interesting people, she said, but they enjoy showing off their ideas.

Over at the booth called DKMS, four sisters — Donna Wright, Kay White, Mary Earp and Sonya Ferguson – were continuing their tradition of getting together annually at Autumn Jubilee.

Though they live far apart, and only see each other a few times a year, Ferguson said they come to Autumn Jubilee to sell crafts while they catch up.

The sisters at DKMS sell handcrafted decorations – magnets, signs and so forth.

This year, in honor of the television show “Duck Dynasty,” they’re selling knitted fake beards inspired by the enormous beards worn by the men in the reality series.

Two of the kids, Thomas Ferguson and Abby White, took turns modeling the beards for passers-by.

“We just love it,” said Kay White. “My mom and dad come out … This just gives us a chance to get together for family time.”

And, also, a little bit of extra cash from the crafts they sell.

Elsewhere on the festival grounds, the emphasis is on knowledge — and passing it on.

In the Heritage Village area, demonstrations of blacksmithing, woodturning and basket weaving went on throughout the day.

“This is a part of our heritage that people don’t see anymore,” said Mickey Furr, of Albemarle, whose handcrafted wooden furniture and decorations were on display.

When he wasn’t talking to guests, Furr worked on carving the molding for a wine rack, made from part of a whiskey barrel.

Nearby, Stephen Martin, of Rockwell, demonstrated how craftsmen would turn wood on a foot-powered spring pole lathe.

Using a springy sapling, or other tree, connected to the lathe by rope, Martin showed a small crowd how foot power could be used to create parts of furniture, kitchen utensils and more.

It’s the same technology, Martin said, that craftsmen used in building great cathedrals in Europe, or everyday household goods in colonial America.

“Our forefathers were smart,” he said. “They didn’t like to work any harder than they had to.”

And, he said, the demonstrations he does for kids and families help carry that knowledge forward.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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