Carthage Ready to Roll for Annual Buggy Fest
Carthage is expecting its biggest crowds ever for this year's Buggy Festival.
A big attraction is expected to be the huge number of new vendors whose stalls will carpet downtown streets up and down Carthage Hill around the historic Moore County Courthouse.
"We used to worry about lots of empty spaces two weeks out," Town Manager Carol Sparks said at Tuesday's final festival committee meeting. "Now we expect every spot to be taken. Karen only had two or three left, and we've been getting lots of calls."
Every attraction is free, and the town pays to provide lots of free amusement park rides for youngsters to enjoy.
For everybody, there are also chances to climb aboard an old buggy of the kind once made in the county seat by Tyson & Jones. Other antique buggies -- everything from two-seaters to horse-drawn hearses -- will be on display. Down a ways, classic hot rods vie for prizes to be awarded by local beauty queens.
And everywhere there will be things to see, things to do, things to eat, and things to take home.
"We have a lot of new and different kinds of vendors this year," Sparks said. "There are more crafts and homemade things for sale."
The festival launches with a celebration dedicating the outdoor theater in Nancy Kiser Park to one of the town's most passionate advocates, the late Sherwood F. Lapping. At 6:30 this (Friday) evening, a bronze marker on the hill above the amphitheater is to be unveiled.
"I think every member of Sherwood's family is coming," Sparks said. Others will be there to say a word about the retired Air Force colonel who made the town not only his home and place of business, but also his life's cause. Lapping and his son, Stephen, ran their law firm from a small building a short block from the courts.
Not liking the vacant lot across the street, Sherwood Lapping helped turn it into a small park. He was a strong supporter of Robbins Mayor Mickey Brown's idea of protecting the northern part of the county from light pollution, making Moore County from Carthage through Robbins into a "Dark Park" to protect views of night sky and bright stars.
Lapping was a town commissioner, an ardent Rotarian and an eager supporter of anything he thought was good for Carthage, from the park where his theater will stage shows to benches, picnic shelters, and playgrounds. A number of dignitaries including from state Sen. Harris Blake, state Rep. Jamie Boles and Patrick Coughlin, president of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce will take part in the dedication.
That's when the Buggy Festival begins, and musicians will strike their first notes from the stage at Lapping Theater. Above, in the parking lot, the largest number of contestants ever to enter the Arc of Moore County Barbecue Cook-Off will be setting up their elaborate cooker tents, getting ready for a fiery night's work..
Fun and food at Kiser Park go on until 9 p.m. when pigs arrive at the cookers and visitors go home as the cooks get started.
Early Saturday morning, judges will make rounds, tasting tidbits and vendors will be setting up their booths. Saturday's events run 12 hours, starting with brass band and color guard at 9 a.m. to the last notes of the last dance at 9 p.m.
Parking is available on streets around the blocked-off downtown area. A handicap-accessible parking area is reserved at Fidelity Bank, with volunteers providing golf cart access to the festival.
Aside from golf carts, for which permits must be obtained at the Police Department, or wheelchairs, no other wheels are allowed, Police Chief Chris McKenzie said.
"No bikes, trikes, skates, skateboards, cycles -- no wheels," he said. "No animals either, unless they are helping animals like seeing-eye dogs. We have had people try to bring in everything you could imagine. They've tried to bring in snakes around the neck, monkeys on a leash. No animals, please."
One big attraction this year could come from the Police Department itself. Police Cpl. Justin Garner will be on duty at the command center in Fred's parking lot and available for photos, autographs, and conversation.
He's been widely acclaimed for heroically confronting a gunman who had allegedly shot and killed seven elderly patients and a nurse March 29 at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center. In the gun battle, Garner was wounded -- but he stopped the carnage and made the arrest.
Garner returned to duty Tuesday, just in time to help with festival folks -- more than a few of whom may be coming to meet him.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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