Bath Fest mixes history, hilarity

Published 12:32 am Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bath residents, with help from some visitors, will again get to help celebrate their history and culture as the sixth-annual Bath Fest comes to North Carolina’s oldest town Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bonner’s Point.

The event includes performances by local musicians and two shows staged by Historical Interpretations at the point. Children will be able to participate in crafts and activities such as a fossil dig and a fire safety house. The event’s art contest will be conducted with assistance from Bath Elementary School.

Cara Singleton, involved with the planning for this year’s Bath Fest, recalled her first encounter with the event’s festivities.

“This is my first year with Bath Fest and only my second year attending. My husband and I just moved to Bath last year,” she said. “It was actually our first weekend in our new home on Main Street, and it was so fun to see the streets lined with vendors and people. For me, it was the immense sense of community and pride that the town has. It is truly like living in a Norman Rockwell painting, and Bath Fest only enhances that.”

Bath Fest is a Town of Bath event, and the town government contributes the largest amount of funds to the event. The second-largest sponsor of the event is the Beaufort County Arts Council. The rest of the funding comes from local business sponsorships and vendor fees. The Bath Fest committee is all-volunteer.

Lerae Umfleet, chairwoman of the Bath Fest committee explained some of the background of the event.

“Last year, was our biggest year for attendance, and we estimated that we saw between 1,500 and 2,000 visitors in the area. We anticipate as many, if not more visitors this year,” she said. “It’s grown, but it’s still a small-town atmosphere with plenty of breezes at the point and lots to see and do.”

The theme for this year’s Bath Fest is “Who We Were.” It will tie into a Renaissance motif.

Singleton explained this year’s Bath Fest will be a bit of a departure from previous Bath Fests.

“Although Bath was not technically a town during the Renaissance, we were trying to tie back to some of our English roots, since we generally tie back to the roots of the people of the area such as Native Americans and Indians,” Singleton said. “We’ll be having players from a traveling Renaissance faire group that will be mingling in with the crowd and doing performances.”

All proceeds raised by Bath Fest go to improving future Bath Fests.