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Crowd gathers at Dan Nicholas Park to welcome fall season with 41st annual Autumn Jubilee

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Despite temperatures peaking in the lower 80s on Saturday, the spirit of the fall season could still be felt at Dan Nicholas Park during the 41st annual Autumn Jubilee.

The beloved event traditionally attracts up to 60,000 attendees and was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The modified event returned Saturday and will continue today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dozens of vendors set up shop throughout the park to feature products such as decorative wreaths, customized wood pieces, handmade knives, local raw honey, clothes and jewelry. And in true Rowan County festival fashion, attendees had food options such as Hoff’s Grill, locally made barbecue, Greek cuisine, funnel cakes and gourmet popcorn. Children and families could enjoy the petting zoo, the merry-go-round, the train, gem mining and Rowan Wildlife Adventures.

This year’s event didn’t feature inflatables in the children’s area, hayrides, pumpkin painting or entertainment. Organizations such as The Knightly Order of the Fiat Lux of Rowan County, however, still put on a show. The Knightly Order is a nonprofit organization that fundraises for charities that benefit special needs children via live still demonstrations and living history presentations. At this year’s Autumn Jubilee, Sir Preston Absner and Dame Kim Absner dueled before a crowd of about a dozen attendees before allowing children to participate in sword fighting with “Fight a Knight.”

Rowan County resident Deana Zeuger is a regular attendee whose favorite part is the custom-made decorative wreaths. She said, jokingly, that the pandemic likely allowed artists extra time to make the wreaths even more impressive.

As for being back out and attending events, Zeuger said it felt “normal” again.

“We’re slowly getting back to normal,” she said. “It’s nice to see everybody out and about again.”

Rowan County resident Savanna Zeuger said her favorite part is watching the woodworking and the custom-made signs that can be purchased, but she also enjoys the various tumbler cups featured as well.

Though the weather has been warm during past events, first time attendee Nicole Hudak from Mecklenburg County said “it’s still better than being cold and rainy” or even hotter.

Jason and Jackie Whitley, a couple from Cabarrus County, said this was their first time attending Autumn Jubilee. They were pleasantly surprised by the number of vendors featured at the event. Jason Whitley said the event provided a great opportunity for local small businesses to advertise themselves and for attendees to support the local economy.

“Everyone’s having a good time,” Jackie Whitley said. “The kids loved being at the playground and then we got to grab some food and sit here.”

When speaking to the Post, daughter Ava audibly gasped in excitement for the petting zoo, which was up next on the family’s schedule.

The only downfall, Jason Whitley said, was “I’m sweating through my shirt.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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