The motto "building memories" might very well be the theme of next year's Dearing Spring Fling. But the actual building that will benefit from the festival is the Dearing Gym.
A group of Dearing citizens gathered at the Dearing CafÈ on April 12 to discuss plans for the event that has been scheduled for May 14, 2005. The festival will include a variety of activities, all of which will help fund repairs to the Dearing Gym.
Festival organizers are in the early phases of planning the inaugural event and are looking for more volunteers to get involved and share ideas. There are few definites yet, but those at the meeting hope it will help revitalize a sense of community in Dearing.
"It brings closeness. It brings fellowship," said Gladys Rodgers, one of the organizers. "Dearing needs some pride, and we need something done for Dearing. There are festivals all over the United States. It's time Dearing had one."
The idea for the festival was born out of a conversation between Mrs. Rodgers and Judy Hobbs, a beautician at Shear Country in downtown Dearing. The two decided to get the ball rolling and put Dearing on the map with a festival of its own.
A key focus of those organizing the festival is the history of the town. They feel that few people know where the town came from and where it is headed.
"A lot of people can learn a lot of things about the town that they live in," said Genie Walton, another of the festival's organizers.
The activities that have been set for inclusion in the festival are craft and flea market sales, a tractor parade, gospel music and games for children. Booths will be located throughout the downtown area and will cost between $15 and $25.
Also on the Friday evening before the festival begins, a community dinner is in the works. Black-eyed peas, cornbread and hog jowls will be served, and a classic car show is being discussed for that evening as well.
Those who have attended the initial meetings are excited about the possibilities of being able to revamp the gym.
Currently the County Commission has approved a more than $70,000 plan to renovate the gym, which is the oldest one in the county.
But the festival committee has bigger plans for it. They want to use the proceeds from the festival to convert the gym into a community center, something they feel Dearing has been missing.
"There's nowhere in Dearing of sufficient size for say 200 people to get together unless they use the new elementary school," Ms. Walton said. "If we could get the gym refurbished, it could be used as a community center."
Those interested in helping with the festival can contact the organizers or attend the next meeting which will take place at 7 p.m. on June 22 at the Dearing City Hall.