I’m more than familiar with small town festivals.
My dad works for Southern Bank in Mount Olive, N.C., and we always would spend the last weekend in April attending the Pickle Festival. From riding down giant slides on a burlap sack to going from tent to tent looking for the next unique seller or goods, all elements of a community festival bring a certain feeling of nostalgia for me.
On Sunday, the streets of downtown Siler City were packed with people for its annual Spring Chicken Festival. My two good friends from high school and college, John and Ashley, accompanied me on our excursion to find our own adventure at the Spring Chicken Festival.
We walked down Raleigh Street, where multiple food trucks were lined up to serve grub for festival-goers. From nachos and shaved ice to Jamaican jerk chicken and Polish pierogis, Raleigh Street was full of dining options.
I swore off buying anything from the festival, and while I managed to fend off the mouthwatering temptation of jerk chicken wings, I wasn’t able to resist buying some other goods from vendor booths.
My friends and I made our way to the LongLeaf Hemp Company table, where we learned some of the in and outs of farming hemp in N.C. Jeff Marsh, one of LongLeaf Hemp Company’s co-owners, explained the process of extracting delta-8 THC — one of the psychoactive cannabinoids present in hemp — from harvested hemp. Needless to say, my friends and I were enamored by Marsh’s passion and knowledge on hemp farming, and interested in trying some of his products.
I left the hemp booth with new knowledge and Marsh’s business card, and made my way to the next booth, which featured various jams and jellies. Ashley, who is also my roommate, spotted a coveted delicacy in our apartment: apple butter.
Both of us instantly caved and went “halfsies” on an eight-ounce jar, with the man behind the table probably wondering why two 23-year-old women were so excited about apple butter.
We went to a second jelly and jam vendor, and this is where my friends and I discovered flavors only imaginable in our wildest dreams. They had the classic flavors like strawberry, grape or blackberry, but some proved to be truly unique, including coffee jelly, strawberry cheesecake jam, strawberry habanero jam and Cheerwine jelly. Yes, Cheerwine!
We were also treated to a bluegrass rendition of Rolling in the Deep by Adele, although it was the Gipsy Danger Band who took the stage. I had no idea I needed to hear a bluegrass cover of the Grammy-award-winning song until I heard it on Sunday.
The Spring Chicken Festival is an important event for Siler City, as thousands of people walked through its downtown district. The event highlighted everything Siler City and Chatham County has to offer, from unique businesses to amazing people who make the county one of the best places to live and work.
I saw several people I knew through work, and I met some others through the different booths or just walking through the streets. Events like the Spring Chicken Festival help bring a community together, and when a community unites like that, it makes these events even more special.
Next year, I hope to attend the festival again, and maybe I’ll be invited to partake in the Chicken Pickin’ contest.
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.