Washington Summer Festival heads back to the past|Fewer professional food vendors on tap; nonprofits replace them

Published 11:09 pm Saturday, May 30, 2009

Contributing Editor

The Washington Summer Festival returns next month for its 26th year, but with some changes.
The festival, mostly staged along the city’s downtown waterfront, is set for June 12-13. The festival is organized by the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and runs from 5 to 10 p.m. June 12 and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 13.
This year’s festival will have fewer vendors, said Catherine Glover, the chamber’s executive director.
“We’ve had a lot more local nonprofits step forward and use it as their fundraiser,” she said. “We have fewer food vendors, and we are focusing on more crafters. That’s a good thing to do.”
Anne Crumpler, the chamber’s events coordinator, said 95 vendors are signed up for this year’s festival, down from previous years in which the festival had up to 110 to 115 vendors.
“We’ve been very selective on who our vendors are this year,” Crumpler said.
While local nonprofit groups and churches will provide burgers, hot dogs, pizza and the like, professional food vendors will provide alligator bites, barbecued-chicken halves, seafood and funnel cakes. One vendor will operate a tiki grill that serves Hawaiian/Polynesian food, gyros and similar fare.
The changes are a continuation of an effort that started several years ago to make the festival more family friendly, Glover said. Other changes were made just to shake things up a bit.
“It’s a slow movement. You can’t do it all at once,” she said.
“We’ve switched amusements,” Glover added, noting that Michael’s Amusements will replace Poythress Amusements. The carnival rides and games will be located on the green space just west of the N.C. Estuarium.
A beer garden will be part of this year’s festival. It will be located in the parking area near the festival’s main stage.
In April, the City Council authorized the sale of beer and wine on city property. The beer garden will be open from 5 to 9:30 p.m. both days of the festival.
Glover told the council that having a roped-off beer garden provides a controlled area in which festival-goers may drink beer and wine. The consumption of alcohol on city property is prohibited unless the council approves it for special events.
The Summer Festival information booth, which also serves as the festival’s T-shirt booth and a lost-and-found facility, will be located at the corner of Stewart Parkway and Respess Street. Until the festival begins, festival T-shirts, including women’s tank-top style T-shirts, may be purchased at the chamber office on Stewart Parkway.
No animals except service animals are allowed downtown during the festival.
The Summer Festival golf tournament will be held June 12-13 at the Washington Yacht and Country Club. Downtown merchants will have a sidewalk sale June 13.