Cary bustles for Lazy Daze festival

Mild weather boosts attendance for arts and crafts street fair

aweigl@newsobserver.comAugust 26, 2012 

— Saturday’s mild 70-degree weather may have helped Cary’s annual Lazy Daze Arts and Craft Festival rebound after being washed out last year by Hurricane Irene.

The annual one-day festival, which has an average attendance of 50,000, drew about 70,000 people this year, setting a record. Saturday’s crowds were so large that there was a 40-minute wait for one of the 10 shuttle buses at Cary Towne Center at midday.

Festival coordinator Joy Ennis prefers the kind of problem caused by larger-than-expected crowds.

“It’s going very well,” she said. “The crowds are strong. The artists are happy. They are selling.”

In its 36 years, the festival has raised about a half-million dollars, distributed as grants to support cultural arts programs in Cary.

Business was brisk at the Fly Home Bird House stand, where Ginger Reuling and her husband, Clark Hansbarger, were selling wooden birdhouses with copper roofs. “There’s tons of buying energy,” said Reuling, who is a repeat vendor at Lazy Daze. “I think it’s booming because they didn’t have it last year.”

Shopping was certainly on the minds of Bonnie Wolcott of Holly Springs and Tina Shaw of Cary. Both women came to the festival to shop with their 3- and 4-year-old daughters in tow.

Plus, Wolcott said, “We like what they have for the kids, too,” including a bounce house and games.

Sales were going well at Anita Edwards’ tent where she was selling animal-shaped metal clocks and jewelry.

“I think the weather has a lot to do with it,” she said. “It’s been a good crowd.”

Chain saw creativity

And a crowd was gathered outside one of this year’s new exhibits: a chain saw art competition. Three chain saw artists had to create two sculptures – one a North Carolina theme, and the other a summer theme – by 3 p.m.

One of the artists was Ron Knight, 67, of Concord. Knight taught himself how to artistically carve logs with a chain saw two years ago after having heart surgery.

“I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself,” Knight explained about the surgery that forced his retirement from landscaping.

After chopping some firewood, Knight said, he began whittling and then was inspired to try chain saw art. He now sells his creations and competes.

“It’s a hobby that turned into a full-time job,” Knight said.

It took Knight 2 hours, 15 minutes to carve a bench out of a log of Southern yellow pine. On the upper portion of the bench, he carved the outline of the state of North Carolina and marked the location of several cities.

Refusing to be upstaged by his younger competitors, a grinning Knight said, “Anybody can carve a bear in 30 minutes.”

At that moment, that’s exactly what Randy Everett, 56, of Colfax, and Tommy Ottaway, 37, of Surf City, were doing.

Everett’s bear was a tribute to the famous tame bear named Mildred of Grandfather Mountain, while Ottaway’s bear leaned on a welcome sign. The men not only used chain saws but routers, sanders and torches to highlight and finish their carvings.

Knight ended up winning first place. It should be noted that one of the cities he marked on the bench with the map of North Carolina was Cary.

Weigl: 919-829-4848

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