Festival still packs them in

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
More than a thousand people enjoyed a festive atmosphere at Goats Music and More despite: heat Friday; cool, wet weather Saturday; and clearing skies Sunday.

Folks from all over came for fun in Lewisburg during the Seventh Annual Goats Music and More Festival in Rock Creek Park last weekend when some Chapel Hill boys won the Battle of the Bands and more new goat herders held up under the show tents to the delight of parents, hosts and visitors.

"It's a class presentation," Jim McCowan of Columbia said at a Nigerian Dwarf Goat show with his friend, Connie Dickins, who interjected, "and we don't know anything about goats." However, tourists may have been outnumbered by enthusiasts like Jan Cook of Maryville who explained, "Even though (Nigerian Dwarfs) are smaller, their milk is higher in butter fat so it's better for making cheese and butter."

Goat cheese and meat were sold at the festival in booths set up like those for funnel cakes, corndogs, popcorn, hamburgers, hotdogs, and soft drinks that sold well on Friday, but faced stiff competition from coffee and cocoa on Saturday.

"A lot of people told me they take their vacation time to come to Lewisburg," said Pat Taylor, director of the John D. Taylor Memorial Boar Goat Show who reflected on what's become a four-day labor of love for volunteers and city officials. "This is so much work, but when they go out of their way to tell you they had a good time - that just makes you feel like you're doing the right thing...

"Our goat exhibitors came from New York State, Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida," she said.

Small town festivals may still be a destination of choice instead of exotic vacations because of the recession, and the festival here seems to have felt it, but with a twist.

"The entries were down by numbers, but there were more new exhibitors than ever before," Taylor said.

One experienced exhibitor, Rusty Repp of Loganville, Ga., east of Stone Mountain, was here for the first time Friday.

"The layout is great," Repp said while milking one of his does shown for her bountiful udder. "There's close proximity to unload" goats and equipment near the tent with stalls which were near the show ring.

Repp has shown goats for a decade, has been to hundreds of goat shows and hasn't been affected by the recession. He breeds and sells goats.

"It's wonderful, if the weather wasn't coming in," he said Friday morning as, elsewhere in the park, City Manager Eddie Fuller had decided that night's concerts would have to be under the Farmers Market pavilion instead of the main stage because of the rain.

Sheets of plastic were wrapped around three sides of a newly constructed stage at the pavilion where the show went on with a crowd estimated by one official at 750. Then, as bands switched equipment, WAXO's Bob Smartt introduced his daughter Jeanne Kay, asking if she'd sing "I Saw the Light." Instead, the five-year-old recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the crowd stood up and spoke the words with her. Many of the men removed their ball caps.

"She could recite it at two years of age," parent Sharrin Smartt said.

In the audience was Ben Whitesell of Rocky Mount, Va. The word moonshine is on his cap. He was here for the 45th reunion of his class at Marshall County High School.

"They're loud," Whitesell said of the two competing bands.

Adding to the carnival nature of the festival were Melissa and Glenn Dodge of Lewisburg who brought their pet ferret named Daisy to the park on Saturday. Tween-age girls Breauna Waldrep and Breann Chapman, also of Lewisburg, were fascinated.

Shaun Klush, the Elvis impersonator, was one of two acts Saturday night. The other was Motown Madness with singers and musicians performing like Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and the Blues brothers.

Early Saturday afternoon, Fuller confided: "Elvis' band is late... Their airplane's door wouldn't close." He didn't know why: "Ask American Airlines."

Waiting in the audience were Robert and Robert Andrews of Theta, Maury County: "We're here to see it all. We don't want to miss any of it."

It was an ambitious goal."