Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Princeton Time Opinion

October 2, 2009

Community pulls AutumnFest through cloud burst

I doubt there was a dry hair on my head or thread on my clothes when Herb McClaugherty looked at me and declared, “You look like a drowned rat.”

By comparison, Herb, a fellow Rotarian and AutumnFest volunteer, looked rather dry and dapper in his hat and windbreaker that only appeared to be marginally damp.

Though Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce organizers originally prayed for sunny skies to shine on the fourth annual AutumnFest, even a foggy drizzle would have been cause for celebration Saturday, as we discovered the event was destined under a downpour.

The showers arrived early and fell steadily, but many of the 60 scheduled vendors turned out anyway with wares ranging from unique jewelry to scented tarts and harvest decor.

Rotarians began roasting the corn that has become an AutumnFest favorite, while scents of chili, cheesesteak and Italian sausage rose into Town Square and lingered near the booths of Mercer County Historical Society, Adam Chambers Foundation and Grillbilly’s. A few blocks away, Carr Memorial United Methodist Church volunteers prepared jars of applebutter ready to sell, while another vat cooked nearby.

Eugene Lambert climbed into the engineer’s seat of his Kiddie Train and called for tiny passengers to climb aboard, while Glenwood School’s Wildcat Band, Christ Incorporated, Carla Bragg, Miss Behavin’ and many more performers braved the windy day to get the festival off on a noteworthy start.

And, AutumnFest volunteers weathered the storm through it all. Under caps, hats, hoods and umbrellas, we did everything we could to keep the festival going. But, by 2 p.m., even the heartiest workers, most adventurous vendors and supportive visitors grew weary of the soggy situation.

When word arrived that it wasn’t safe to run sound equipment on either the main or Town Square stage, PMCCC leaders made the call to call it a day. That was hardly the end of the work, though. There were still a legion of scarecrows to stow away, vendors to notify, tents to tote and garbage to get rid of.

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