Clayton Harvest Fest Attracts Record Crowd
Elizabeth Turner stood in the middle of Main Street Saturday morning trying to keep one eye on her grandson, whose face was being painted with a Spiderman web, and the other eye on her daughter-in-law, who was picking out a necklace from a local vendor. In one hand, Turner gripped the family's Yorkshire terrier who was sniffing at the passers-by, and in the other hand she balanced a half-eaten funnel cake.
"It just seems like there is so much more here this year," said Turner, who comes down from Virginia to visit her family every year around Harvest Festival time. "And, oh my gosh, the weather is just gorgeous! Look at all the people out here!"
The Turner family was just one of the nearly 18-20,000 people estimated to have filled downtown Clayton this weekend for the 2012 Harvest and Music Festival. The Clayton Chamber of Commerce, who puts on the annual weekend event every September, says this year brought by far the biggest crowds it's ever seen.
"The Harvest Festival was a huge success!" said Mary Beth Roberti, director of special events for the Clayton Chamber of Commerce. "I spoke to several of the vendors who participated in the vendor show and they said they were amazed at how many people they talked to who were not from Johnston County, some as far as Wilmington. It is exciting to know that our festival here in Clayton is reaching other areas of the state and we hope it continues to grow each year."
The FREE annual event ran from Sept 12th through Sept. 16th and featured all sorts of performances, arts and crafts, and more than 160 different vendors.
"We look forward to the Harvest Festival all year long," said Mayor Jody McLeod.
Wednesday night the carnival rides opened and Thursday night the concerts began. The band Nantucket took to the stage at Town Square Thursday as the popular Town Square Concert Series wrapped up its season. Observers say it was one of the most enthusiastic crowds yet for the summer series concerts.
Then on Friday fans poured onto the lawn in Town Square for the Clayton Idol finals where some incredible young talent competed to win the same title won by Scotty McCreery in Clayton before his national American Idol fame! Congratulations go to Clayton High School senior Hunter Rae Houston for her original rendition of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" and Abigail Stephens who was crowned Jr. Clayton Idol for her version of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep."
On Saturday, the weather was incredible as Main Street lined with a parade of vendors and displays from Smith Street all the way to O'Neill Street. People enjoyed everything from funnel cake and cotton candy, to local artists and community groups welcoming you to check out their booths. Dale Earnhardt's race car drew admirers, as did a much-expanded Classic Car show. The sparkling red antique tractors garnered ooh's and ahh's from the children. The Shadow players, a sword-fighting theatrical group, along with several local karate and tae-kwon do studios hosted several performances!
On Sunday the sounds of gospel resonated from Town Square despite the on-and-off rain with performances that started around 1:30 and culminated with the Praise & Worship Service by Powhatan Baptist Church at 7:30 pm.
The event is growing each year and the Clayton Chamber of Commerce says plans for a better and bigger event next year begin immediately. We'll see you at Harvest Fest 2013!