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Festival brings friends, neighbors out to new Bear Poplar general store

BEAR POPLAR — Spring seems to be busting out all over at the West Rowan Farm Home and Garden store on Highway 801 in Bear Poplar. While I suppose you could say that about most places this time of year, it seems to be more so at this store. Brian and Elsie Bennett are experiencing their first year as store owners and like new parents want to show off. That’s exactly what they did at their grand opening spring festival on March 23.
Since the majority of the festival was to be outside, Elsie and Brian had watched weather reports all week, hoping for the best. I saw them two days before the event and asked if they were concerned about rain. Brian’s philosophy at the time was that one can’t control the weather. Elsie, in turn, had been praying. After learning that rain would most likely be south of Bear Poplar on the day of the event, I thought God must have heard Elsie’s prayers.
I was scheduled to sell my children’s books as a vendor, so I didn’t want it to rain either. Just in case, my husband, Michael, volunteered to put the tent in my car the night before. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not one to arrive too early anywhere, so I was probably the last vendor to set up. That worked in my favor, though, because I had plenty of help with my tent.
After getting settled, it wasn’t long until I saw familiar faces like Joe and Bonnie Myers, Robin Davidson, Jane Akers and Carolyn and Larry Poteat. Even though it was early, Larry and Carolyn said they had already seen people they hadn’t seen all winter. Neighbors in the country often don’t see each other during long winter months, waiting for spring or some other good reason to come out of hibernation. One great thing about community events, it brings people out to socialize.
My vendor location was in front of the children’s play area, which turned out to be a really neat spot because I could watch my 2-year-old grandson, Carson, in the play area with his mom (my daughter, Kristin). Although he was fascinated by the bouncy house, he was a little scared to try it because of the big kids jumping up and down. His favorite thing of the day was the tractors. (He loves anything that makes noise or “goes.”) After seeing the tractors, he then went with his Grandpa Mike Mike to see the ducks and chickens. While all of this excitement was going on, my other grandson, 2-month-old Garrett was sleeping soundly in his stroller dreaming of the day he could join in the fun. At what other event could you find quilts, cakes, wreaths, bread, boots, horse tack, jewelry, flowers and metal art all in the same place? Then, later, after shopping, be entertained by performing groups such as the Lutheridge Cloggers, the Jones Sisters (bluegrass gospel) and 3rd Verse singing old hymns.
Anyone who enjoys a good banjo would have loved professional banjo player Dale Mills. Dale, along with Darren Martin and a few friends were a crowd favorite playing country bluegrass music. To add to the fun was a horse and buggy ride provided by Brian Simmons. By the way, Brian enjoys bringing his horse and buggy to weddings and events for a fee.
All in all it was a great day for the Bear Poplar community. Not only did everyone sell a little merchandise, but lots of friendships were rekindled. From the response of the festival goers, this might just become a new spring tradition in downtown Bear Poplar.
One of the goals for the festival was to raise money for the West Rowan Helping Ministries and the Mooresville Soup Kitchen. That goal became a reality by the end of the day because a truck load of food and $700 were collected. Overwhelmed with the kindness, Elsie said, “Neighbors helping neighbors, friends you can call family … those are the folks that hang out in a little town called Bear Poplar/Mt Ulla.”
If you ever stop in for a visit at the West Rowan Farm Home and Garden Store on Highway 801, make sure you don’t leave until you pull up a chair, sit down for a spell and enjoy the flavor of local conversation along with a soda and some nabs. That kind of good old days atmosphere is reminiscent of an Andy Griffith show.
So, in the words of a true Southerner, “Ya’ll come back now. Ya hear!”
Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Call her at 704-278-4377.

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