CONWAY — Foster Hughes, Conways parks, recreation and tourism director, may have a rare safeguard from downsizing with a talent for promotion that rivals a carnival barker.
You can almost hear him say Step right up folks! and Come one, come all! when he tells you about all the things at the Conway Fall Festival on Saturday. So fervent is his delivery that youre sure there would be an exclamation mark at the end of each sentence and some in between if he sent it to you in an email.
Hughes laughed at the suggestion of his barker skills, but said that when he was a kid, he wanted to be a clown whenever the circus came to town or a new Jerry Lewis film screened at the local theater.
Hughes actually uses the word wonderful! repeatedly when describing the many attractions of the festival, which will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be wonderful! arts and crafts, commercial and nonprofit booths, wonderful! musical entertainment, wonderful! food vendors, a wonderful! kids play area and the wonderful! Amazing Al with his amazing! balloon sculptures.
Thing about it is, he may not be far off with all those wonderfuls. Last years festival drew an estimated 30,000 people.
Its going to be wonderful place to be for the whole family, Hughes said.
But the Fall Festival isnt the only wonderful thing going on downtown Saturday.
CREATE Conway is holding its annual Live Oak Arts and Music Festival under the oaks on the lawn of the old Horry County Courthouse, just steps from the Fall Festival. And Conways First United Methodist Church will stage a big band concert in its courtyard and some seating is to be available on a blocked off block of Fifth Avenue..
The Live Oak festival will have juried arts and crafts as well as a lineup of local musicians to encourage people to help celebrate the creativity flourishing in the Conway area. The show is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A few blocks away, the North Myrtle Beach Band will perform its big band sounds at 11 a.m. outside the First Methodist Church.
Billy Fallaw, the churchs music director, said Bert Owen, the bands conductor, is a church member and the fine arts coordinator for Horry County Schools. Fallaw said there may be a second concert at 1 p.m., so if you miss the first, mosey over to check.
He said the church will have some chairs set up on Fifth Avenue, but we are encouraging people to bring lawn chairs and plop down to enjoy the music.
The fun really starts Thursday
Major NASCAR races may not be found on the Grand Strand, but that doesnt mean there is a shortage of enthusiastic rubber-peelers in the area.
Some of them might be among the entrants in Conways first Big Wheels race Thursday evening. The event, which had eight teams confirmed as of Friday, is being held as part of the Oct. 4 Downtown After Five, a monthly happening sponsored by Conway Downtown Alive.
The race course will start and end at the corner of Laurel Street and Fourth Avenue, with the Big Wheels careening down Laurel to Third Avenue, hanging a right to Elm Street and then looping around for the return leg.
Each Big Wheel you may remember them as plastic childrens tricycles -- will have a two-person crew. Each crew is required to bring its own Big Wheel and to wear helmets, said Hillary Howard, Conway Downtown Alives executive director.
She said organizers debated whether to hold a downhill race or an obstacle race before deciding on the latter. There will be hay bales and large plastic animals for riders to navigate, as well as people with squirt guns planted among the onlookers.
The winning team will receive $100 in downtown dollars that can be spent in the areas stores, a $100 gift certificate from The Haberdashery and a trophy with a Big Wheel on top. Second place gets $50 gift certificates in downtown dollars and to the Crafty Rooster and a smaller trophy. Third place finishers get $25 in downtown dollars and a Forgotten Times Antiques gift certificate.
Tina Gerald, vice president of communications for the Conway Chamber of Commerce, and Kate McRae, the Chambers membership services coordinator, decided to enter to represent the Chamber in the event, Gerald said.
We thought it would be fun, she said.
Gerald said they are borrowing a Big Wheel from the niece of Kelli James, the Chambers executive vice president, and hope to return it unscathed. She said she hasnt ridden a Big Wheel since she was a child, and she and McRae plan to practice early this week to decide who will ride and who will push.
She said shes excited, but a little nervous, too.
It sounds like a lot of fun, Gerald said.
Racers are to register beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Howard said there is no cost and she expects the race to start around 6:30 p.m. She said there may have to be elimination heats if there enough entries.
And on Sunday
Residents and those who stayed around through the weekend should head to a blessing of the animals at the Methodist Church at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Animals from throughout the Grand Strand and their owners are invited to the ceremony, which will take place in the churchs courtyard on Fifth Avenue. Children are invited to bring their favorite stuffed animal to be blessed.
Lemonade and cookies will be served afterward.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.