Cleveland Spring Fest provides fun close to home

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
CLEVELAND ó If there’s a silver lining to this year’s high gas prices, maybe it’s that more people will stay closer to home and enjoy local events such as the Cleveland Spring Fest.
“It’s going to be a big issue this summer,” Alfred Anderson said, speaking for many people who could be putting long-range trips on hold.
“The sky’s the limit on gas.”
Anderson, a Freightliner employee, brought his family from Salisbury to the Cleveland Spring Fest, and one of the first places they stopped was at the horse rides being offered by Happy Trails Farm, which rescues abused animals and brings them back to health.
Caleb Anderson, 10, rode a paint named Frisco.
Moments earlier, 8-year-old Nicole Carina of Harmony took her first ride ever on a rescued palomino named Pal. What did she like about sitting tall in the saddle?
“Everything,” she said.
Asked to elaborate, Nicole scolded the questioner:
“I already told you ó everything.”
And what wasn’t to like about the town of Cleveland’s Fifth Annual Spring Fest?
The event grows every year and serves as a showcase for the Town Park, whose first phase features trails, shelters, picnic tables, a stage, ballfield, a playground and wide open spaces.
In its short history, the Spring Fest has built a reputation for its nighttime fireworks; evening hot-air balloon launches, when the wind and weather cooperate; the Walk Balloon, which allows kids to play inside a hot-air balloon on its side; an evening balloon (moon) glow; music; dancers; vendors; rides; food; and non-profits.
This year’s additions included an Army National Guard’s helicopter flying in Saturday afternoon, the Happy Trails Farm horse rides, fresh food and produce from Wetmore Farms and McLaughlin’s Farmhouse and live music by the group, Divided by Four.
Mary Frank “Frankie” Fleming-Adkins, a town commissioner and chief organizer for the event, said it excites her that non-profit organizations can use the Spring Fest to get their message out and raise money at the same time.
The non-profit groups included, for example, Cleveland area churches and schools, the Mount Ulla Preservation Society, Cleveland Community Fire Department, U.S. Army recruiters and the West Rowan Neighborhood Center Advisory Council.
Pat and Bill Smith’s Happy Trails Farm sold horse rides to help raise money toward feed and veterinarian bills for their mission of saving abused animals, especially horses.
Pat Smith remembered how Pal, the palomino, looked like a dinosaur when he was rescued because his head was bigger than the rest of his emaciated body. Back to complete health now, Pal proved to be one of the more popular rides Saturday.
Laura Watson, a West Rowan High junior who manned the Wetmore Farms booth Saturday, said she liked the Spring Fest because it was family-oriented. She sold plenty of cantaloupes and strawberries, too.
“It’s good to see a lot of people from Cleveland come out and show some support,” said Geordan Sledge, a 17-year-old junior firefighter.
The Cleveland Fire Department was raising money throughout the day for the families of Salisbury firefighters Justin Monroe and Victor Isler Sr., the men who died in the March 7 fire at Salisbury Millwork.
“It’s all a brotherhood,” Cleveland firefighter Matthew Munsey said. “We do what we can because they would do the same for us.”
Mae Wood and Betty Click happily sunned themselves Saturday afternoon while kids all around them rolled down the grassy hill toward the stage, where the Hawaiian dance troupe Nani Tutu ‘E performed.
“I like it (Spring Fest) because it’s for the kids,” Wood said.
Fleming-Adkins was thrilled with the early crowds Saturday afternoon. Spring Fest always tends to become more crowded after 5 p.m. Many people, including Wood and Click, tend to come at lunchtime, leave and return in the evening for the fireworks and other entertainment.
It’s no problem when things are close to home.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or