The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

May 2, 2013

Many enjoy 20th Annual Arbor Day and Fossil Fair

Erica Benjamin, for the SNAP

Thursday, May 2, 2013 — The threat of rain didn’t stop people from attending the festivities at Norwood’s 20th annual Arbor Day and Fossil Fair this past weekend.

The two-day event kicked off Friday evening with live performances by The Holiday Band and Joy Almond. Saturday’s events, which included a pageant, the annual VFW Car Show and the popular fossil dig, began at 8 a.m. and continued throughout the day.

Various groups used the Arbor Day festivities as an opportunity to raise money for different projects.

Members of Albemarle’s Harvest Church were selling bracelets to fund a mission trip this summer. The bracelets, member Teresa Bundy explained, were made by a group in Indiana. A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of the jewelry is used by the organization in Indiana to build wells to provide fresh drinking water to the needy. The remainder of the proceeds will be used by Harvest Church to send an 11-member congregation on a two-week mission trip to Kenya.

“We are leaving for Kamaguta Village on July 20,” Bundy said.

“We work in the schools and churches over there. We provide school supplies for kids and food for the needy. We’re also going to do a health clinic and provide health services.”

The members of Girl Scout Troop 229 were also fundraising for a trip this summer.

“We’re raising money to go to Savannah, Ga,” 10-year-old Sadye Helms said, while showing the various activities set up at their booth,” Bundy said.

“You can paint a bird house, play games or win prizes.”

While in Georgia, Troop 229 has plans to visit the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, go on a haunted excursion and have an aquatic adventure.

“We’re going to take a ghost tour and we’re going to be out on a boat and might see dolphins,” Helms said.

Troop member Forlessia Miller, 9, was especially excited about the boat tour.

“I’m looking forward to the dolphins,” Miller said.

Ten-year-old Janiya Snuggs was also looking forward to the trip.

“I’m completely excited to go to Savannah,” she said.

In addition to offering everyone’s favorite fair foods, Norwood’s Arbor Day celebration was also an opportunity for local artists to showcase their talents.

Terry Henderson and Claire Moore were first-time participants at the festival.

“We have peanuts, flowers and arts and crafts,” Henderson said, while serving up bags of boiled or roasted peanuts.

“I’m the peanut man. I get all my peanuts from North Carolina.”

Moore, whose father was an artist, has been interested in the arts and gardening for as long as she can remember.

“I do decorative arts and raise plants. I’ve been raising plants since I was a little girl,” Moore said.

Visitors to Shannon and Kevin Thompson’s booth were met with a variety of natural soaps and lotions.  

“We make handcrafted artisan soaps from our little farm in Norwood,” Shannon Thompson said.

A desire to learn new skills, Thompson said, led her to create soaps at their home, A Wing and a Prayer Farm, about five years ago.

“I wanted to learn traditional skills and be more sustainable,” Thompson said.

The soaps, lotions and lip balms are all-natural and have numerous benefits.

“Most of our soap is made from rain water. We collect the rain water and then filter it,” Thompson said, noting that they also sell soap made from goat milk.

“Most of our products don’t have anything synthetic in it. Anything I can find naturally, I use. Natural soaps have benefits. Soap from the store, for example, has the glycerine taken out of it. Glycerine hydrates the skin and keeps in moisture.”

The Thompsons sell their products at local farmers markets, festivals such as Arbor Day and plan on opening a stand on Fork Road in the future.

Richard Alexander and Debbie Reinhardt with Stanly Gardens of Memory attended the festival to meet members of the community and to provide free information about their services.

“We are offering free planning guides and a basket raffle,” Reinhardt said.

“We’ve made it our community outreach mission to get these planning guides in the community,” Alexander said.

“Arbor Day is a lot of fun. We’ve been surprised at the amount of traffic here.”

As in past years, Norwood’s Arbor Day was once again the place to be for a trip into the prehistoric past.

Members of the North Carolina Fossil Club were on hand to exhibit their collections and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science brought various displays and fossil casts for viewing.

Judy Schneider with the North Carolina Museum of Natural History gave a lesson on ancient animals which roamed the lands of North Carolina.

“It was a regular zoo here 100,000 years ago,” Schneider said.

“We had elephants, llamas, sabertooth cats and great dire wolves.”

On display in town hall were elephant teeth and bones and bones from a great ground sloth.

“This is a tooth from a mammoth. Teeth preserve well,” Schneider said, adding that similarities in the teeth of mammoths and elephants point to a common ancestor.

“Elephants today are descendant from the mammoth. You can tell by the structure of the teeth.”

Enjoying the exhibits and festivities were Melinda Blalock and her granddaughter, Madalyn Spring-er, 8.

“I go to Arbor Day every year. I haven’t missed a one,” Blalock said.

“I really do love all the fossils.”