Farmers Day returns for 32nd edition Saturday
CHINA GROVE — Amanda Eller’s baby was due on July 15. This simply would not work, however, as Farmers Day is Saturday, and Eller is China Grove town clerk. She and others on the town’s staff oversee the annual event, now in its 32nd year.
Farmers Day takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in downtown China Grove.
“I wouldn’t have planned this!” Eller said Thursday morning, her tiny daughter in tow, ensconced in her carrier. “When I found out I was pregnant, everybody was freaking out, but I felt like she’d be early.”
Luckily for her mom, Alanna decided to make her appearance on June 26. That means Eller has been able to pop in and out of the office this week to help Pamela Mills, deputy town clerk, with some of the last-minute details involved with putting on a street festival for 30,000 visitors.
Some 150 vendors will line Main Street between Ketchie and Patterson streets, offering everything from food to crafts, jewelry, accessories, clothing, woodcrafts, treats for dogs and humans alike, and booths staffed by local businesses, churches and civic organizations.
Carson High School will sponsor a petting zoo on Park Street, and South Rowan FFA will be hosting its perennially popular ice cream stand at the Roller Mill. Pony rides will take place in the Community One parking lot.
An antique tractor display and car show will take place just outside the South End Barber Shop. Vehicle owners may enter through Ross Street. James River Equipment and Husqvarna will also have displays. A pink firetruck for breast cancer awareness will be set up outside the fire department.
The day’s sponsor is Novant Health, which is also the Main Stage sponsor. Rowan Pediatrics is sponsoring the Children’s Stage, and Carolinas Healthcare System will sponsor the Hanna Park Stage. Castle & Cooke is also one of the day’s sponsors.
Farmers Day kicks off with a Friday night concert in Hanna Park with the Extraordinaires, from 6 to 10 p.m. On Saturday night, Atlantic Groove will perform on the Main Stage from 7 to 10 p.m., with fireworks to follow.
The Efird Family, Southern Style Cloggers and Miss Rowan County pageant contestants will perform during the day Saturday. The Little Mr. and Miss Farmers Day contest takes place at 10 a.m. Eller says that baby Alanna will not participate. Maybe next year.
Restrooms are located at four points around town: China Grove Fire Department parking lot, behind the Hanna Park Stage (where there’s also a first aid station), behind Brooke & Brooke Attorneys, and behind the Main Stage.
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 326 N. Main St., will have three mini concerts/hymn sings at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. The church dedicated a new organ in 2013, and the concerts are a way for festival-goers to escape the heat and quaff a cold bottle of water, too.
In a nod to area farmers, there’s a tomato contest sponsored by L.L. Goodnight & Sons at the Roller Mill. Participants must submit five tomatoes, all grown in Rowan County, to Market Manager Alan Goodman by 2 p.m.
Farmers Day starts early for town staff. Eller and Mills will have help from a cadre of citizen volunteers, Civitans and South Rowan JROTC members. The group will meet at Jimmie’s at 4:30 a.m. Saturday for breakfast, and to pick up their information packets before going over to Main Street to help set up the vendor booths.
Of course, a visit to Farmers Day is not complete without a stop at Gary’s Barbecue.
“It’s our second busiest day of the year after Christmas Eve,” says owner Gary Ritchie. “Around Farmers Day and Christmas, it’s like a reunion here. Farmers Day is a good day for China Grove. We get a lot of hometown people, and a lot of outsiders, and I enjoy meeting all of them.”
For more information about Farmers Day, call China Grove Town Hall at 704-857-2466. You may also visit www.chinagrovenc.gov for the latest updates.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.