Carthage Hopes to 'Advertise' Downtown During Buggy Festival
Thousands heading for Carthage today for the annual Buggy Festival means a chance for the town to advertise itself.
With help from “Friends of Carthage” — a nonprofit offspring of the town’s Appearance Committee — downtown windows have just been painted with brightly colored suggestions.
“This could be a bakery,” one proclaims, with pictures of tasty treats. Next door, dolls and tin soldiers adorn the front glass of another space that “could be a toy shop.”
The hand-painted designs are the work of volunteer artist Lauren Kenefick and her kids. On Wednesday, they showed what they’d been doing to Mayor Lee McGraw and visiting members of the Town Board.
“It is a suggestion — it doesn’t have to be a bakery,” Kenefick said as daughter Mary Kathryn and son Martin put finishing touches while their visitors watched from the other side of a picture window. “I would love to make it my bakery. Of course I’d have to find a restaurant that would rent me their kitchen at night.”
She actually is a baker. Someday she might make that a reality, but for now she’s heading to Sandhills Community College for studies in medical coding.
“My husband retires next year after he comes home from this deployment,” she said. “I’ll have to find a job!”
The Keneficks are a military family, with Staff Sgt. John Kenefick presently serving with a combat aviation brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He’s had a long Army career.
“He was a tank commander with the Fourth Infantry Division when they went to Iraq,” she said. “He went to Bosnia, to Kosovo, from Germany.”
The Kenefick’s children go to local schools. Martin is a junior and Mary Kathryn is in her senior year at Union Pines. She’s turned 18, and voted for the first time in the primary election.
Town Commissioners Catherine Graham and Pat Motz-Frazier joined Bingo Barringer and Nancy McKenzie in front of Chuck Watson’s downtown building, where two spaces are being decorated with suggestions in time for the weekend.
Watson has volunteered the use of his windows. The building itself has historic roots.
“It used to be a car dealer,” Watson said. “They actually had an elevator in the back and could bring cars in and keep them on the second floor.”
He stores some of his collection of antique furniture in the two spaces at present. The visitors wandered around the tin-ceilinged rooms admiring old walnut-framed mirrors, cabinets, bedsteads and other relics.
“Those are lovely!” Motz-Frazier said. “I love antique mirrors.”
She owns the elaborate 1880s Queen Anne Victorian mansion that was once home to buggy company president William T. Jones and operates it as a bed-and-breakfast, The Old Buggy Inn.
McGraw and his wife, Annette, looked over the colorful images and liked what they saw. He has been encouraging a number of projects to improve the look of his hometown.
“This is all part of the Appearance Committee’s work,” McGraw said. “It is supported by deductible donations to Friends of Carthage.”
The annual festival has had some tough years. It was nearly canceled when a Carthage branch of the Chamber of Commerce decided it could no longer operate it. After that, a new nonprofit corporation was organized to run the festival, but the economy hit donations hard and this year it nearly didn’t happen, according to Town Manager Carol Sparks.
“We lost some of our longtime sponsors,” she said. “But then we had some angels come to our aid.”
A $5,000 gift from the Carthage Century Committee and another anonymous supporter rescued this year’s Buggy Festival. Now budgeting will retain enough funds from this weekend’s event to assure that the 25th annual Carthage Buggy Festival will be able to take place in 2013, Sparks said.
McGraw says the town won’t let the festival fail.
“Won’t happen,” McGraw said. “There will always be a Carthage Buggy Festival, and this year will be the best ever.”
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell @gmail.com.
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