Disabilities don’t slow down farm fans

Published 7:49 pm Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rose Syner works an old-time water pump during farm festivities held near Chocowinity on Saturday. She is a student at Chocowinity Middle School. (WDN Photo/Kevin Scott Cutler)

CHOCOWINITY — Under a brilliant blue Beaufort County sky, nearly 200 folks gathered near Chocowinity on Saturday for a farm festival planned especially for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
The third-annual event was co-hosted by The Arc of Beaufort County and the Eastern Antique Power Association, which is based in Chocowinity.
“We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day,” said Sandra Buckman, director of The Arc. The festival was originally scheduled for Oct. 27, but it was postponed because of inclement weather associated with Hurricane Sandy.
“One of the things I am seeing is a lot of families that may have one child with a disability, but they are able to come out here as a family and enjoy the day,” Buckman said. “This is geared so that people are not overwhelmed by the faster pace of a fair or King’s Dominion. It’s a slower pace.”
But those in attendance found plenty to do, thanks to EAPA members and other volunteers. And there was something for everyone.
“The wonderful thing is, there are people here from young children to retirement age,” Buckman said as she surveyed the crowd. “It seems like all ages are enjoying this.”
While some lined up to buzz about in a 1922 Ford Model-T convertible, others boarded a trailer for a hayride through the woods. Also offered were rides in an Amish buggy pulled by a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and trips in a barrel train. The more athletically inclined tried their hand at games of corn hole. And a special treat was the chance to explore a fire engine provided by the Grimesland Volunteer Fire Department.
“This is something we like to do every year to give back to the community,” noted Stan Hudson, EAPA president and owner of the “fairgrounds” where the show is held. Hudson said his club was inspired by the work of The Arc to offer a day of fun for people with disabilities, their families and caregivers.
Between rides and games, folks were treated to hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, homemade ice cream, cookies and soft drinks, all donated for the occasion. Live musical entertainment was provided by the group Unshackled.
In fact, while most of the planning for the event fell to The Arc and EAPA, others stepped up to the plate to insure the event›s success by donating items, time and talent. According to Hudson, the event would not have been possible without the community volunteers, Country Boys Auction, Waters Produce, Pak R, Piston Ring and Machine, Sheer Steel, Jeff›s Portable Toilets, Warren›s Hot Dogs, Pizza Inn, Pizza Hut, Papa John›s, Dominoes, Smith Land Development, Black Jack Baptist Men›s Fellowship and Boy Scout Troop 9046 of Greenville.
Buckman said that events such as this weekend›s festival and the monthly Saturday Night Jamboree help meet a need by providing opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“But we could always use more events like this one,” she said.
To offer assistance to The Arc, contact Buckman at 252-945-4414. Tax-deductible donations may be mailed to 1534 W. Fifth St., Washington, NC 27889.