By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Tarboro’s Town Common was clearly the center of activity in town Saturday, with cars lining the streets surrounding the common, music that could be heard from blocks away, and a sea of people navigating their way through the vendors’ tables under a canopy of trees. The occasion was the 43rd Annual Happening on the Common.
“It was good last year, but we’ve broken records once again with number of vendors and participation,” said Carol Banks, happening coordinator/ events coordinator for Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council. Eighty-four arts and crafts/ non-profits/ food vendors turned out for the festival.
“We had early turnout this year. People were trickling in before 10,” said Joyce Turner, executive director of Edgecombe Arts. Banks felt a feeling of relief and satisfaction at the festival after months of planning.
“I feel very good about it,” she said. “It’s good for Tarboro. It brings the community together.”
“I like the fact that you can bring your entire family out here. There’s something for everybody,” Turner said. Among the offerings at the happening were arts and crafts, non-profit vendors, children’s amusement rides, festival-style food, and a full entertainment lineup.
Mariachi Los Galleros De Mexico, a mariachi band from Raleigh, took the stage in the early afternoon, and a brief rainstorm had folks seeking shelter under the entertainment tent as the band played. Vendors didn’t seem to mind the rain shower, which cooled things off a bit.
“Even though it’s a little bit rainy, it’s not bad. It’s kinda refreshing,” said Deloris Samuelson of Poplar Branch. Samuelson and her husband Lenny come have been coming to the happening for the past few years to sell Samuelson’s handcrafted jewelry.
P.J. Shafer, a Rocky Mount potter, said she thought participation at the happening turned out “really well,” considering the weather.
One of the local vendors at the happening was Brown Holloman, a Pinetops potter. Sara Smith, art teacher at SouthWest Edgecombe High School, browsed Holloman’s pottery while her 6-year-old daughter Anna Smith made her a turquoise necklace.
“I love to come and support the artists,” Smith said. “We don’t have enough experiences like this in Tarboro.”
The festival gave children plenty of opportunities to express their interests, whatever they might be. For Anna Smith, it was making jewelry. For 2-year-old Trevyn Knight, it was giving passersby a solo drum concert on drums provided by North East Carolina Prep School (NECP). Knight plans drums regularly at his church – Living Waters in Pinetops. For 8-year-old Talia Battle of Greenville, it was getting a temporary butterfly tattoo in the Edgecombe Arts tent and touching a ceriopsis Australian goose, “Ricky Bobby,” for the first time.
“It’s soft and I think the bird is friendly,” said Battle. Sylvan Heights Bird Park of Scotland Neck brought the goose to the festival.
Avery Compata, 7, of Tarboro, enjoyed seeing the kittens brought out by Tarboro Trap, Neuter and Return, an organization that neuters feral cats and returns them to their colonies.
“They were cute and had different colors,” she said.
Adults weren’t left out of the fun at the happening, either. Susan O’Malley, a local attorney, enjoyed interacting with community members at her Wags 4 Tags booth.
“It gives you a chance to see people you don’t necessarily see every day,” O’Malley said. “It’s such a nice event. I always look forward to it.” Wags 4 Tags adopts animals from shelters and trains them to be companions for veterans.