Cool breezes of Autumn Jubilee
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — This year, even Mother Nature got in the spirit of Autumn Jubilee.
Partly cloudy skies and a crisp, cool breeze welcomed visitors Saturday to the annual fall festival, held at Dan Nicholas Park outside of Salisbury.
The Autumn Jubilee, which continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, draws tens of thousands of people to enjoy its live entertainment, food, games, craft shopping and fall-themed activities.
The breeze carried the smell of funnel cake, kettle corn, fried chicken, turkey legs and a variety of other foods from a number of vendors.
Joe and Susan Fowler, of Salisbury, are back for the second year selling Brunswick stew at Autumn Jubilee. The piping hot meal was popular in Saturday’s weather.
“We’ve probably sold twice today what we did last year,” Joe Fowler said, stirring a large pot with the help of the couple’s children.
He said they came back to Autumn Jubilee for a second time because they liked last year’s experience.
“Of all the festivals I’ve been to, it’s one of the most well-run, cleanest and nicest,” he said.
The stew contains chicken, beef, potatoes, tomatoes, corn and a few special ingredients.
Today, their Open Season booth also will sell sweet potato butter. Joe said the healthy spread is good on potatoes, donuts and even ice cream.
Susan said they try to feature other local products by displaying mums from Variety Produce in Rockwell and offering Salisbury-based Pig Pen Seasoning.
Those looking for treats can find candy apples, pastries and homemade ice cream at nearby booths.
Next to the food, dozens of vendors sell wood crafts, jewelry, candles, artwork and a variety of other hand-crafted items.
Ira Miller set up his woodworking booth at Autumn Jubilee for the first time this weekend. He said he was buying paint in Hickory, where he lives, when a Salisbury painter saw photos of his crafts and told him about the festival.
“It’s wonderful,” Miller said. “The people here are just so nice.”
At one of the craft vendor tables, Salisbury resident Cathy Hawkins watched her teenage daughter, Mariah, get an ornament placed in her hair.
Hawkins said they come to the festival every year and love it.
“You really don’t have to spend a lot of money here to have fun,” she said.
Parking, entertainment, games and activities at the festival are free.
Rockwell resident Lisa Rider said she and her husband, Bruce, also come back every year. They’ve been there when it’s raining, she said, and it’s much more fun when the sun shines and the breeze blows.
“This is a beautiful place,” Rider said. “There’s lots of things to look at and food to eat, and I see lots of people I know.”
As a tip for new visitors, she said, “Make sure you don’t have to take a left turn into Dan Nicholas Park.”
Traffic on Bringle Ferry Road was backed up for at least a mile from the park’s entrance Saturday afternoon, as visitors drove in from across North Carolina and beyond.
Kim Gentry and her family traveled all the way from Deltona, Fla.“We came up here four years ago, and we love it,” Gentry said. “It’s worth the drive. … They don’t have this kind of stuff in Florida.”
She and her husband, John, cheered as their children competed in potato sack races — one of several old-fashioned games played both days of the festival at 2 p.m.
Holly Hedgecock, of High Point, won first place for finding the most apples hidden in a haystack.
“I’ve been coming here since I was 3 years old, and I do this every year,” she said.
Hedgecock said she and her family — children, parents, cousins, nephews, nieces and more — are camping out at Dan Nicholas Park this weekend.
This year, she said, they’re thankful for the great weather.
“Normally, it’s so hot, it’s not as fun to be out here,” she said.
For more information about Autumn Jubilee, visit www.dannicholas.net or call 704-216-7803.