The little country crossroads with the famous name is getting ready to host a festival that’s fit for everyone... including a lizard.
The 30th annual Lizard Lick Festival is slated for Saturday, Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., but the venue is going to be a lot different than the 29 previous festivals.
This year’s event will be hosted at Wendell Park. Organizers Ronnie and Amy Shirley say the new location is an effort to make sure there’s enough room for all who want to attend.
The festival, which has been held every two years in recent times, attracted about 4,000 people in 2013 and Ronnie Shirley said the crowds were more than the Lizard Lick community could handle. “We had cars lined up all up and down the road on both sides. It was just a mess,” Shirley said.
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So this year’s event, which is likely to fill even the spacious-by-comparison Wendell Park, is picking up stakes and moving into town.
Shirley says the move also helps the town of Wendell, which has placed a premium on hosting events in the town to help draw people into downtown. Shirley says he expects about the same number of people at this year’s event – anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people to attend.
For those who go, there will certainly be a lot to see and do. Men will dress as women and women will assume male roles for the Masculine Misfits and the Feminine Freaks contests. Car and truck shows are expected to draw somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 vehicles.
And there will be children’s activities appropriate for the youngest children on up to pre-teens and teenagers.
Then, of course, there will be the lizard races, which have become a staple of any Lizard Lick Festival. “Mayor” Charles Wood will kick off the event at 11 a.m. and will bring historical exhibits to put on display. And, he will assume his traditional role overseeing the lizard races.
“It just wouldn’t be a Lizard Lick Festival without the mayor,” Shirley said.
Though the activities will be free for spectators, there will be several food trucks on hand to quell hungry stomachs, so visitors will want to bring money to buy their lunch and supper. Contestants in the car and truck shows will also pay a fee to participate.
Money raised from the event will support a number of charities, including Behind the Badge, Hero Rewards, the Sadler Foundation and Saturday Night MOB, a youth program of RFA Church in Raleigh.
This year’s festival also takes advantage of another Wendell institution – Wendell Country Club. Golfers can participate in the Golf Tournament Kickoff which begins with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Entry fees are $200 per team and golfers can sign up for the event online at lizardlicktowing.com.
Shirley, who stars in the cable television show “Lizard Lick Towing” said the event is focused more this year than ever on families. “We tried to find a lot of stuff that kids can’t always do for free and make it a free event for them so they have a chance to do something fun right here in Wendell,” Shirley said.
If calls of interest are any indication, Shirley may see plenty of families on Saturday. “We’ve gotten calls from people in 30 different states and the UK,” he said.