Families, friends reunite at soggy, time-honored hometown festival
Candace Sipos --email@example.com
EDINBURG -- The Ole Time Festival is a meeting grounds for many people, including the Cooke family.
Though it has been decades since they've all lived under the same roof, these seven siblings try to meet up every year during the third weekend of September, when the town's biggest event is under way. These five sisters and two brothers all live in surrounding towns, and they've seen this event evolve throughout the years.
"[It has] gotten bigger and better," said one of the sisters, Jane Cooke Racey. "It's a little slow today because of the weather, but once that sun comes out, people will be out here."
Mist still loomed around the mountains surrounding the town on Saturday, after the area was hit by rain that morning. Judy Galang, one of the vendors, had buckets stacked in the middle of her area to keep the rain-soaked tarp from caving in.
"Zero chance of rain, they said it all week and they were wrong," said Galang, still unpacking her items Saturday afternoon. She has sold her handmade scarves, ornaments and other crocheted and knitted creations every year at the festival. "It's a nice show. People are very nice, very friendly."
Teddy Shea, of Shea Wolfe Designs, called the weather "unfortunate."
"Last year, we were swarmed and it was wonderful," she said. "It's just, you know, weather, economy ... people are just afraid to spend a dime these days."
Galang has also noticed the decline in sales over the years.
"When times get rough, this is the stuff they give up," she said.
But vendors agreed that they were still able to make a profit, despite the $80 charged to each vendor. Some of the proceeds go to charity, a portion goes back into the festival fund, and the rest goes to the historic Edinburg Mill.
Festival Chairman Michelle Heier said despite the weather, which threatened to hinder attendance, there was still an "awesome" turnout.
"As the weather started to kind of subside, things really broke loose," Heier said, adding that 40 antique cars showed up to the weekend-long event and about 80 vendors signed up. All across the town, from schools to banks to fire departments, people crowded around food booths, craft tables and each other. Guests could buy almost anything homemade -- candles, jewelry, ceramics, walking sticks, llama yarn and fried pies, to name a few.
"There's lots of cool stuff," said Griffin Mahoney, 6, who was accompanied by his parents.
"I love this event," said Kimberly Zelena, of Lucky Duck Kettle Corn. "It's just the hominess of the town and the people are all so friendly."
Randolph Kirby stood in front of Sal's Italian Bistro, waiting for the parade to start along with friends from Northern Virginia. The group met when they all used to work at the Alexandria Fire Department, and now they share time together at the festival.
"I come out here for the people," Kirby said.