Memorial Week at JC Price a tradition of fun; events continue today and Sunday

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 1, 2012

By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY— It’s a family tradition for many in Salisbury.
The last week of May, after Memorial Day, is when the carnival rides, food and games fill the lawn outside of J.C. Price American Legion Post 107 on Old Wilkesboro Road.
Brenda Avery of Salisbury said she’s been coming to Memorial Week “since I was a child.”
“We just always looked forward to coming,” said Avery.
After school Friday, when the thunderstorms that rolled through were still just clouds on the horizon, she was handing out ride tickets to her excited granddaughters.
Before long, 41/2-year-old twins Imoni and Chamoni were riding miniature boats.
And older girl, Jenesha, was pondering going into a haunted-looking structure that the midway operators call “the dark house.”
“Is that scary?” Jenesha asked one of the staff.
“I don’t know,” he said, matter-of-factly. “You have to walk through and find out.”
Avery handed her the tickets, and off she went to explore.
Avery, who grew up in Salisbury, said that in decades past, the Memorial Week festivities were one of the only activities to look forward to.
“I loved the rides and games,” she said.
Post commander Mae Carroll said Memorial Week, in its present form, has been going on for more than 40 years.
But this year, the economy and the weather are taking a toll on attendance.
The storms that poured rain on the area Friday were expected to dampen carnival riders’ fun, but Carroll said today should be better, weather-wise.
Money is another story. “We live in a high-risk area,” Carroll said. But of the low turnout, she said, “it’s never this bad.”
Other Legionnaires said they felt that graduations and family travel might have kept people away earlier in the week.
The weekend caps off the group’s largest fundraiser of the year.
Member and historian Roy Leazer said Memorial Week helps bring in the money used throughout the year for service work, including activities for area children and donations to the Livingstone College UNCF campaign and other charities.
Carroll said that, aside from the economy, these efforts have been hampered by the same problems other veterans’ organizations are facing.
Although the J.C. Price post has some 265 members on the books, many of those are older veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Some are unable to drive, while others are homebound.
“And we are not recruiting as many Afghanistan and Iraq veterans,” Carroll said.
Many of them haven’t shown the desire to join veterans’ groups, and she thinks the generation gap may be a reason.
“There’s a lot of years between Vietnam and Iraq,” she said.
Those problems are all but forgotten out on the midway, where kids run and play, and adults eat and talk, or browse for gifts among the vendors.
Among the Polish sausages, chicken, barbecue and fish-fry vendors, one of the most popular items was the collard sandwich at H&S Concessions.
Lisa Stevens, co-owner, showed how it’s made.
“You take fresh collards,” Stevens said, emphasizing “fresh.”
Then, spread them on a pancake-sized piece of cornbread, fried on a flat griddle.
Add pieces of hog jowl and fatback, then top with a bit of vinegar and another piece of cornbread.
“It’s soul food,” said Stevens, who runs the Cleveland-based business with her partner Paul Holshouser.
She said the collard sandwich has its roots down east in Pembroke.
“There’s people come from Mt. Pleasant and Albemarle,” said Stevens, who also sells smoked turkey wings and legs, as well as funnel cakes and more.
Tiffany Simpson, whose daughter ZaNiyah Wagoner was riding a carousel, said she was glad to share the event she loved as a girl with her child.
“It shows that we can get some positive energy out there, something positive for our children,” Simpson said.
Memorial Week activities continue throughout the weekend.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.
Want to go?
Memorial Week is held on the grounds of J.C. Price American Legion Post 107, located at 1433 Old Wilkesboro Road.
Admission is free. Ride tickets are available for purchase; unlimited ride armbands are $15.
A dance will be held at 9 tonight at the Legion post, with music from deejay Woody Wood. On-street parking is limited.
For more information, call 704-636-2950.