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Saturday’s mild 70-degree weather may have helped Cary’s annual Lazy Daze Arts and Craft Festival rebound after being washed out last year by Hurricane Irene.
The annual one-day festival has an average attendance of about 50,000 people. Saturday’s crowds were so large that there was a 40-minute wait for one of the 10 shuttle buses at the Cary Town Center Mall at midday. Organizers tried to find more buses to ease the wait for arriving and departing guests.
Festival coordinator Joy Ennis prefers the kind of problem caused by larger-than-expected crowds.
“It’s going very well,” she said. “The crowds are strong. The artists are happy. They are selling.”
In its 36 years, the festival has raised about a half-million dollars, distributed as grants to support cultural arts programs in Cary.
Business was brisk at the Fly Home Bird House stand, where Ginger Reuling and her husband, Clark Hansbarger, were selling wooden birdhouses with cooper roofs. “There’s tons of buying energy,” said Reuling, who is a repeat vendor at Lazy Daze. “I think it’s booming because they didn’t have it last year.”
Shopping was certainly on the minds of Bonnie Wolcott of Holly Springs and Tina Shaw of Cary. Both women came to the festival to shop with their 3- and 4-year-old daughters in tow. Plus, Wolcott said, “We like what they have for the kids, too,” including a bounce house and games.
Sales were going well at Anita Edwards’ tent where she was selling animal-shaped metal clocks and jewelry.
“I think the weather has a lot to do with it,” she said. “It’s been a good crowd.”
And a crowd was gathered outside one of this year’s new exhibits: a chainsaw art competition. Three chainsaw artists had to create two sculptures – one a North Carolina theme, and the other a summer theme – by 3 p.m.
One of the artists was Ron Wright, 67, of Concord. Wright taught himself how to artistically carve logs with a chainsaw two years ago after having heart surgery.
“I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself,” Wright explained about the surgery that forced his retirement from landscaping.
After chopping some firewood, Wright said, he began whittling and then was inspired to try chainsaw art. He now sells his creations and competes.
“It’s a hobby that turned into a full-time job,” Wright said.
It took Wright two hours and 15 minutes to carve a bench out of a log of Southern yellow pine. On the upper portion of the bench, he carved the outline of the state of North Carolina and marked the location of several cities. Refusing to be upstaged by his younger competitors, a grinning Wright said, “Anybody can carve a bear in 30 minutes.”
At that moment, that’s exactly what Randy Everett, 56, of Colfax, and Tommy Ottaway, 37, of Surf City, were doing.
Everett’s bear was a tribute to the famous tame bear named Mildred of Grandfather Mountain, while Ottaway’s bear leaned on a welcome sign. The men not only used chainsaws but routers, sanders and torches to highlight and finish their carvings.
Wright ended up winning first place. It should be noted that one of the cities he marked on the bench with map of North Carolina was Cary.