NORMAN, N.C. – Eight miles north of Ellerbe is the community of Norman. And despite being a small town, it’s doing big things.
The Town of Norman, whose namesake was originated from Flem Norman of the Norman Lumber Company, was established in 1913. It was reincorporated in 1931, but has seen little growth since that time.
But the annual Norman Fest is a means by which such a situation may well be remedied.
A greater awareness of the town and its appeal was facilitated the 8th Annual Norman Fest, held October 13 and 14, commenced Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., and continued Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Organized by the Town of Norman, and sponsored by multiple businesses and organizations, Norman Fest brings in a great many more people than its official population of 140 people.
“We have about 60 vendors this year,” said town clerk Glenda McInnis, “as opposed to only 20 so in our first year.”
That “first year” was 2009, when Norman Fest originated as the brainchild of then-councilman and now mayor, Ken Broadway.
“We had to overcome a lot of issues and nay-sayers to get that first festival started,” Broadway said. “But we made it work.”
A major part of that “we” mentioned by Broadway was then-mayor Jean Stutts, who reiterated Broadway’s comments regarding the efforts required to initiate the festival during her tenure as the town’s chief elected official.
Stutts, a native of Rockingham but a resident of Norman since 1994, noted that a family from as far away as Australia was in attendance this year, thus offering evidence of the continuously growing popularity and notoriety of the event.
Former Norman mayor Jean Stutts et Norman Fest 2017.
Helicopter tours of the area were constantly running overhead as attendees enjoyed eateries and beverages provided by multiple food vendors while being simultaneously serenaded by live music, which included The Sand Band, emanating from the Norman Stage near Town Hall.
The carnival atmosphere and ambience was further accentuated by the line of classic cars on display, with perhaps the most notable of these vehicles being a 1941 black Buick owned by Joe Kenan.
“I’ve had the car for about eight or so years, but this is the first time that I’ve shown it,” Kenan said, who is a native of West Virginia but has lived in Norman for over 20 years.
If the rapid growth and progress of Norman Fest itself is any indicator, the entire community may soon benefit from an influx of industry, stores and other businesses.
“We have excellent options for companies to locate here in Norman,” Broadway said. “We just need to let them know we are here.”
Given the observed popularity and camaraderie associated with Norman Fest 2017, it would certainly seem that the collective efforts of the town, its people, and the many sponsors who subsidized the event constitute a definite move towards enhancing awareness of the town.