Children will be encouraged to use their artistic skills at the Funmakers’ sand art booth when RiverFest returns Sept. 17 and 18 to the streets of Eden’s Olde Leaksville Shopping District on Washington Street.
Funmakers is owned by Virginia residents Scotty and Anne Smith, making their first appearance at the annual event.
Both are natives of Lynchburg, Va., now living in Goode in Bedford County, Va. He is retired after 15 years as a Genworth service representative; she is a semi-retired paralegal. They have three grown children and three grandchildren.
Sand art is not something the Smiths do themselves, Scotty explained. They provide supplies like colored sand and a container, usually glass, to the public at festivals. Participants make their own sand art designs in bottles and create a “masterpiece,” Scotty said. “No two are exactly alike.”
Initially, the couple started as hospital clowns years ago, entertaining children and adults at hospitals. Anne and Scotty needed to supplement their income when their daughter started college. In the mid 1990s, they began doing balloons and face paintings at festivals.
“We were at one festival and saw someone doing sand art,” and added it to their repertoire in a small area under their tent.
“They could make their art while I did the balloons and Anne did the face painting,” Scotty said. When they realized the sand art was more lucrative, they switched to all sand art in the early 2000s.
The Smiths continued working the festivals after their daughter graduated from college because they liked making new friends as they traveled.
“We enjoy going to the different uptowns,” Scotty said. “A lot of people like playing golf on weekends, but we enjoy doing sand art, mainly for children but teenagers and adults also.”
Anne also makes flower halos for girls and they are a popular item. Scotty described them as similar to the ones of the hippy era and said they often are used for weddings.
“Little girls like them because they make them look real beautiful,” Scotty said.
With a new overall look, this year’s RiverFest promises nearly 100 arts and craft vendors plus 15 food and beverage sites, live concerts all day, with plenty of fun and music on the agenda.
“We are so excited RiverFest is back,” said Eden Special Events Manager Cindy Adams. “Our festival has something for all ages. We hope you plan to come early and stay late!”
Adams said one stage has been eliminated, and “we have moved things around a bit and relocated the food courts.” New this year will be the interactive Kidz Zone for children located from Bridge to Monroe streets.
The event is a celebration of Eden’s art, history and river heritage and takes place in the town’s oldest downtown area, dating back to 1797.
Activities will get underway at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, and begin again at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18. The fun will continue until 10 p.m. both nights.
Lowe’s of Madison’s will offer Lowe’s Lounge on the corner of Washington and Patrick streets where festival-goers can relax in comfortable outdoor furniture. A highlight of the area will be a fire pit where s’mores can be made.
Live music will play continuously with special shows scheduled from 7-10 p.m. Friday by The Cat 5 Band and Saturday by Jim Quick & Coastline.
Saturday’s live bands will be: Tanglewood, from 11 a.m.-noon; The Bo Clevis Project, 12:30-1:30 p.m.; The Alll Band, 2-3 p.m.; The Divided Mind, 3:30-4:30 p.m.; and Carolina Kool, 5-6 p.m.
Other activities include axe throwing, BMX bike show, bungee trampoline, butterfly encounter, Carolina Raptor Center bird release, chainsaw carving, giant games, magicians, Melanie Paschal’s Dance Creations and racing simulations.
River excursions also will be available.
“If you’ve never experienced our two great rivers, this is a great time to take an excursion with Three Rivers Outfitters during the festival,” Adams said. Their display will be in the mural park at the corner of Washington and Henry streets.
As far as the pandemic is concerned, Adams said sanitation efforts will be in place throughout the two days, including five hand-washing stations with soap and water, and hand sanitizer at all the food areas.
Free parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis but shuttles will provide transportation from Kingsway Plaza on Kings Highway and Tractor Supply on NC 14.
“While you are at the festival, we hope you check out all the great shops in our revitalized Uptown Eden,” Adams said. “It’s awesome.”
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