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‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

EAST SPENCER — The smell of fried festival foods, 70-degree weather and echoes of gospel, blues, jazz and soul filled the heart of East Spencer Saturday as locals gathered to celebrate Spring Fest, hosted across from town hall.

The festival began at 1 p.m. and lasted until 6 p.m. It featured live music from local band Livehouse and musician Destiny Stone. Locals had several options for food from numerous vendors, including Pelican’s Snoballs, Slice’s Diggity Dawgs, Ace of Spuds, as well as other festival favorites such as popcorn, funnel cakes and pork skins.

The event, organized by town alderman Tony Hillian, was made possible by a grant from the Rowan County Arts Council in the amount of $8,250. It’s the second time the town has received the grant and the first year the festival received its formal name — Spring Fest.

Hillian, joining numerous others in sporting a royal blue shirt with zip code 28039, said he was happy to see that “the people really came out” to relax, move around and gather like they used to.

Mayor Barbara Mallett said Saturday’s event showed the town is “coming back in full swing,” especially since families gathering together in the community is the foundation of the town. She was joyful to see people hugging for the first time in a year or more, and recalled many locals showing off new grandchildren who have been born since the pandemic.

“I’m glad we’re able to do it,” said resident Kenneth Muhammad El. “We need more of it.”

Rev. Patrick Tate of Southern City AME Zion Church said Saturday’s event was much-needed, well-organized and included something for everybody of all ages and colors. Many of the children throughout the day utilized the open green space to play football and run around.

“We’re all coming together as one community,” Tate said. “And that’s what it’s all about.”

For the first time since beginning the East Spencer Community Garden a few years ago, Ashley Honbarrier of Happy Roots said children assisted with the new garden Saturday at the start of the Spring Fest. Children helped prepare three garden beds and planted corn, green beans, squash, basil, tomatoes, peppers, kale and sunflowers. Additionally, she estimates about 50 packs of seeds were given away, mostly for Mother’s Day gifts.

Other Mother’s Day gifts could be purchased at Heart Drops, a new gift shop started by Salisbury native LaToya Cherry.

Additionally, the East Spencer Democratic Party hosted a tent for locals to register to vote.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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