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Opening night of Faith Fourth of July brings in big crowd

FAITH — Even before the festivities officially began, downtown Faith on Wednesday evening was crowded with people who were ready to enjoy opening night of the town’s annual Fourth of July celebration.

After taking last year off due to concerns over COVID-19, the Faith Fourth is returning for its 75th year.

“Looking out at the crowd tonight, it’s awesome,” said Randall Barger, the chair of this year’s Fourth of July committee. “It’s great that everybody has come back out tonight to celebrate our patriotism, listen to some good music and for families to get together. They were gone for a year and they’ve come back in full force tonight.”

The line for tickets for carnival rides Wednesday started well before the rides themselves actually opened at 6 p.m. People were also congregating near food and drink vendors to get their fix of hotdogs, hamburgers, lemonade, french fries and other deep-fried and candy-coated concoctions. Meanwhile, a sea of lawn chairs had already been placed around the festival stage in anticipation of a performance from The Embers.

“They started putting chairs out on Saturday,” Barger said. 

Barger said he booked The Embers for opening night because he knew the beloved beach music band would draw a crowd. With people sitting in their chairs more than an hour before The Embers took the stage at 7:30 p.m., it appears Barger was right.

The Embers were the main reason why Suzanne Jones and Vickie McDaniel traveled to Faith from Greensboro for the Fourth of July celebration’s opening night. Although McDaniel had never been to the festival before, Jones grew up attending the event almost every year. 

“My dad grew up in Faith and he was one of 14 kids,” Jones said. “I probably have relatives here that I don’t even recognize.”

Jones hadn’t been to the celebration since President George H.W. Bush visited the town in July of 1992. Jones said the draw of The Embers was too strong for her to stay away.

Bernie Sahadi, a retired marine and a member of Faith Legion Post No. 327, said he hasn’t missed a Faith Fourth of July Celebration since he moved to Salisbury from California in 2015. Last year was the exception.

“Look around — people are happy,” Sahadi said. “People are getting away from whatever they’re doing with life, from their job, the heat. Especially after this COVID-19 quarantine. People like it here. They feel safe, they feel comfortable and they want some activity.”

Sahadi was watching people enjoy the evening from the seat of a lawnmower that the American Legion was raffling off to raise money. The American Legion is just one of many civic organizations who benefit from the Fourth of July celebration. Barger said the organizations, which hold raffles and sell concessions, bring in thousands of dollars during the festival.

Faith Fourth festivities will continue through the weekend. Over the course of the next few days, thousands will visit the town for live music, fair food and rides.

“This is the biggest little city for a whole week,” Sahadi said.

Today’s draw will be $2 rides. Friday night will feature the Faith Idol Contest and a performance from The Tonez. Fireworks will be shot off on Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. over the Faith Academy ball field. The parade will weave through downtown Faith on Monday at 10:00 a.m.

To honor the anniversary of the town’s most-cherished tradition, Barger had a sign made featuring pictures taken during the celebration dating back to its inaugural year in 1946. Commemorative hats and shirts with a limited edition logo are also being sold throughout the weekend.

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