Less than a month after Mule Days, Benson is staging another festival, this time to celebrate the fall harvest and small-town life.
“This is event has something for everybody regardless of your age or gender,” said Joseph Stallings, Benson’s economic-development coordinator. “It’s a great opportunity to enjoy a piece of classic small-town charm.”
Benson’s Harvest Festival runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, in the Singing Grove on Main Street and around downtown. New this year are a pie-eating contest and children’s art exhibit. The festival will include about 50 food, game and health vendors, Stallings said.
The day will begin with the Healthy Harvest 5K run and walk; participants will run through some of the town’s oldest and newest neighborhoods, finishing on Market Street, Stallings said. The cost to enter is $25 ahead of time or $30 on race day. The run will benefit the American Cancer Society, and the town expects about 150 participants, Stallings said.
Walkers and runners can grab dessert at a cupcake walk for cancer. Jenny’s Sweet Creations will provide the cupcakes, and everyone who walks a mile will get a free cupcake, Stallings said.
The pie-eating contest, with sweet potato pies, will be about speed, not quantity, Stallings said. Whoever finishes a whole pie first wins the $500 prize. The cost to enter is $10 in advance, $15 on Saturday.
Kids can play in a trailer with electronic game systems, careen down a 27-foot-tall inflatable slide and see artwork from fellow students from Benson’s elementary and middle schools.
The festival will play host to a car show by the Full Throttle Car Club. The group expects at least 30 cars and hopes to raise at least $1,500 for the Autism Society of North Carolina. The cost to enter a car is $20, and the clubs expect old and new cars, vice president John Martin said.
Two music groups will also perform: the Cross County Scuffers and the Eric Strickland Band.
Stallings said this is the town’s third year staging the Harvest Festival in its current format, after Benson updated the former Saturday Strolls with more activities and arts and crafts. The last two years brought out about 1,000 people, Stallings said, but that was with poor weather. He’s hoping about 2,000 people will show up this year.
The festival will host nine health vendors, including Health Source at Benson Chiropractic, which will offer free massages. Others will be answering health questions and providing information about services they offer. Among those on hand will be the Johnston County Public Health Department.
“We’ll be answering any questions people have about the Public Health Department,” said Kimetha Fulwood, health educator. “There are some people who have health care needs and they want to know are we able to help them.”
Fulwood said the department has gone to the festival since it started three years ago. “It’s just a great way to do outreach with the community ... and let them know we’re here to serve them,” she said.