Some area residents — particularly those around Pilot Mountain — can be forgiven if they believe we haven’t had a proper spring in three years.
Their wait is about to end.
Friday, the three-day Pilot Mountain Mayfest, sponsored by the Civic Club of Pilot Mountain will return for the first time since 2019, after a two-year COVID layoff.
“The only Mayfests I’ve ever missed are the two we’ve canceled,” said Michelle Fallin, Pilot Mountain Civic Club president and head of the volunteer force putting on this year’s event. “It is a huge tradition for us who live in Pilot Mountain, for people who like to visit Pilot Mountain. I’ve always thought of it as the traditional way to kick off spring and summer.”
She is not the only one — traditionally more than 30,000 people flock to the small town in the shadow of Pilot Mountain for the three-day event, with several streets in downtown Pilot Mountain lined with craft vendors, food booths, along with live music and a game or two for the children.
While Mayfest has been around for several decades, this year’s festival seems to have a special meaning.
“It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Jenny Jessup Kindy, the town’s Main Street coordinator. “It is making life feel more like normal. We’re excited to welcome something like 30,000+ visitors back to town.”
“I have heard a lot say they are glad we are back,” Fallin said. “From what I’m hearing, from people in the community, they are so ready to get back to enjoying everything Pilot Mountain has to offer.”
It’s not just the lure of a downtown festival that has Fallin and others excited. The civic club generally donates between $10,000 and $15,000 to non-profit agencies in Pilot Mountain to meet needs in the community, in additional to some direct donations to families who are in the midst of a crisis, as well as some scholarships to local students.
“Mayfest has always been our biggest fundraiser, it given us the opportunity to do that for our community,” she said. With no Mayfest the past couple of years, it has been difficult to maintain that level of non-profit support. “The money we raise this year will enable us to get back to where we used to be.”
She said this year those attending will notice a few differences, with some of the vendors and music in different places. Part of reorganizing the design is to move the food vendors to Main Street, with tables set up nearby so people can sit and eat.
“That’s been kind of one big struggle each year, for people to be able to sit down and enjoy their food.”
In addition to the vendors — many of which will be new this year — Fallin said many of the downtown businesses plan to set up booths.
“We have some awesome businesses that have come into town the last couple of years,” she said. “Our town in general has done an excellent job of bringing people in to shop. I think a lot of the newer businesses see that and want to be part of Mayfest.”
Mayfest will have its grand opening at noon on the stage set up on Depot Street. The ceremony, in addition to a big welcome to those in attendance, will include remarks by Mayor Evan Cockerham, singing by the 3- and 4-year-olds from First United Methodist Church, with the East Surry High School JROTC serving as color guard.
Fallin said the festival will be from noon until 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday.