Perfect day for Farmers Day
By Hugh Fisherhfisher@salisburypost.com
CHINA GROVE ó Bad economy? One wouldn’t know it from the crowds at Farmers Day.
Maybe it was something to do on a nice summer Saturday, or a desire for down-home food and kid-friendly fun.
But a lot of people said the weather was the reason.
Even after 1 p.m., the hottest part of the day, the temperature on Main Street was a balmy 80 degrees.
Jeremy Carter, of Rowan County, said he thought it was the coolest Farmers Day on record.
He and wife Jennifer, with kids Kate and Andrew, took a break to have lunch under the South Rowan YMCA Service Club tent.
The result? People came downtown and stayed.
“It hasn’t tapered off yet,” said Lee Withers, a China Grove town councilman and organizer of the street fair.
Withers said this year’s event ó the third one that he’s helped to organize ó maintains the focus on agriculture he feels is important.
“The biggest thing we did is put the farmers back in Farmers Day,” Withers said.
But this year, crops have not been as good. The only produce vendor to be seen was run by the South Rowan High School Future Farmers of America.
“We’ve about sold out of peaches,” South Rowan senior Meghan Massey said. Cantaloupes and watermelons had also sold well.
“It just depends on the weather and people’s crops,” said FFA advisor Laura Hoffner. Much of the produce the FFA sold this year was donated by local farmers.
A little farther down the street, the South Rowan FFA’s homemade ice cream remained a crowd favorite.
The familiar walk downtown is a tradition for many.
Shelley Morgan said her family has been to Farmers Day before, although the newest member of the family hasn’t.
“It’s her first time,” Morgan said as her 18-month-old daughter, Ella, laughed in her stroller, clutching her bottle.
“My four-year-old is over there with my husband, doing the slides and the bouncy stuff,” she said.
The inflatable playground and other children’s attractions, including a magician and the gas-powered “train” ride through the downtown streets, stayed busy.
Local merchants reported good sales throughout the morning into lunchtime.
“We had a good turnout today,” said Joy Roy of Corner Books & More, at 101 N. Main St.
The only downside was that so many customers coming in and out the front door proved too much for the store’s air conditioner to handle.
Ritchie and Joyce Robbins, owners of R&J Creations, sold handmade trick noisemakers, marshmallow-shooting pop guns and other novelties from a booth on Main Street.
“We’ve stayed pretty busy,” Joyce said. “We’re real loud, so we draw attention.”
Farmers Day also provides a kickoff for local groups’ fund-raising and community awareness projects.
First Baptist Church of China Grove hosted three free showings of the movie “Fireproof” throughout the afternoon to drum up interest in Bible studies based on the film.
“We wanted to show people what it’s about,” Sherra Grissom said.
Grissom is First Baptist’s events coordinator. She said there will be two groups starting in September, “Fireproof Your Marriage” and “Fireproof Your Life.” She said turnout was strong for the day’s first showing.
From the antique farm equipment display to the lines for favorite festival foods, Farmers Day was a crowd-pleaser ó perfect, Withers said, for families on a budget.
“It’s cheap. It’s free if you want it to be,” he said.
But the positive impact on the community will last long beyond this weekend.