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A sense of history: Festival helps raise money for renovation of gymnasium

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Brad Wyrosdick of the band According to Plan sings on the festival stage at Dearing's Mayfest last weeked. Thousands of people converged on the town Saturday to help raise money to renovate the old Dearing gym.
Photo by Kristopher Wells
On Saturday, the world came to Dearing. Or at least the surrounding area did, which is just what the town was hoping for.

The inaugural Dearing Mayfest drew crowds beyond the predictions of 2,000 and put the spotlight on the small town in the south end of McDuffie County, festival organizers said.

"It's great. It went beyond what we thought it would do," said Judy Hobbs, who originated the idea for Mayfest. "We have people here from Harlem and Thomson and Wrens, I mean all over."

Festival goers perused the booths of more than 100 vendors and sampled all kinds of food, some from Miss Allene's Burger Battle contestants. Kids found fun on the backs of ponies or in bouncing down a huge inflated slide.

Harlem's Mayor, Scott Dean, won over the taste buds of the judges taking home the Burger Battle trophy. And the Dearing CafÈ won the "Window to Our Past" quilt that portrays historical buildings in the town. It went up on display Monday as the restaurant opened.

Those in attendance were pleased with the festival and what they think it could do for the town.

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McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton and his wife, Jennifer, ride a bike in the parade.
Photo by Kristopher Wells
"I think it's real fine. I think it's a good thing," said Dearing resident George Holliman who came with his wife and granddaughter. "I believe it will bring the folks together, and they'll grow closer together with something like this going on."

"I think Dearing probably can really benefit from this if they keep it up," said Thomson resident Tinye Harding.

All of the excitement and out-of-town visitors put a smile on the face of Dearing Mayor Ralph Menees.

"Man, I was ecstatic," he said. "I expected people, but I didn't expect the crowd that we had. I was very very pleased with the total results. ...People are already talking about next year."

Mrs. Hobbs, who was also overwhelmed with the success of the Mayfest, said that many of the vendors have already requested the same spot for the festival that will take place every first Saturday in May.

"At least we know they're coming back," she said, adding that she expects nothing but growth from the festival in years to come.

Proceeds from the Dearing Mayfest topped $10,000, according to Mrs. Hobbs. Aside from funds to set up next year's festival, that money will go toward renovating the old Dearing Gym.



Web posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005











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