LAUREL HILL — With thousands expected to attend today’s Laurel Fest, organizers are raising the bar and honoring local merchants and businesses.
The free festival is in its 16th year and is poised to be the best year yet, with more vendors and entertainment than ever before, according to Billy Norris, an organizer for the event. Laurel Fest organizers are anticipating 3,000 visitors.
“The best part of the weekend is just seeing the kids faces. It feels good when you see the kids running around, playing, and jumping in the bouncy houses,” Norris said. “The festival is a great way to bring the community together.”
The two-day event began Friday with gospel musical performances and will continue this morning beginning at 9 a.m.
Most of the activities are centered near the Laurel Hill Community Center, located in the former Laurel Hill school building on Church Street and Parsonage Avenue. The event should end around 5:30 p.m.
“I’ve been coming every year and it’s great to get out and meet people,” said Charles McGee. “You meet all kinds of people and you look for them the next year.”
The festival has attracted close to 60 vendors selling everything from everything from crafts to collards, fish, and barbecue to funnel cakes and ice cream.
One food vendor has been coming regularly for years — Big Daddyz Fun Foods — selling funnel cakes, fried Oreo’s, and “killer” lemonade.
“We love this community, they’re tremendous in all they do,” said Big Daddyz vendor, who goes by the name Joe. “It’s one of the best events we come to and while last year was great this year is even better. The organizers put in a lot of hard work and it always turns out wonderful.”
There will be a snake and bee exhibit, bouncy houses, a rock wall, face painting, storytelling, and clogging to name a few activities. There will even be a dunk tank for people to dunk members of the community such as Sheriff Ralph Kersey and sheriff’s candidate John Martin.
The band Dark Horse out of Southern Pines will also perform.
According to the National Weather Service, there could be isolated showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. but otherwise, the day is sunny with a high near 92. The chance of rain is 20 percent.
“I really appreciate all the support from the local community and businesses.” Norris said. “It is great to know everyone in the county is behind us.”
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171