We attended the Faison Market Day in my paternally ancestral hometown of Faison NC this past Saturday, the most honest “festival” I have attended in years. No corporate sponsorships, out of town food vendors, or thousands of people to wade through. Just a 600 person town in Eastern NC, proud of its produce heritage, and coming together for a day to celebrate.
My Aunt, who lives in Faison, was part of the committee to put the Market Day on. She advertised to us, family living outside of Faison, a wonderful day featuring a parade (there was, a 15 minute parade, replete with the sweet potato mascot of North Carolina), a car show (4 cars, including an early 70’s Ford Pinto fastback), and music (a bluegrass band from the mountains of NC, the guitarist being a Faison native and one of my dad’s best friends growing up).
There may have been a dearth of critical mass, but everyone there made up with lots of small town pride, smiles, shaking hands, and “How do you do’s.” We ended up staying all day. My favorite parts of the day included free pickles from the town pickle producer, local peanuts for sale, our lunch, cooked by the local church, which consisted of pork barbecue, barbecue chicken, cole slaw and white bread; and just being able to stand out in the middle of Main street most of the day, talking with family and people I have not seen in years. The produce garland decorating the stage wasn’t too shabby either.
Faison Market Day always honors someone, and this year it was decided to honor the book toters and checkers who worked at the Faison Produce Market in the 50’s-80’s. A few ladies and gentlemen who had worked there were on the stage, and spoke a few minutes about their memories. A point of family pride was noted as my father, who worked these jobs in the summers of high school and college, was pushed up on stage to be honored and share a few stories. I had heard them for many years, and this was a great way to put them in context.
Near the end of the afternoon I walked around town a bit, picking up a bag full of pecans that litter the streets of Faison. Pecans and pecan trees are everywhere, and local denizens are so used to them they have forgotten their value. They don’t realize I have to pay $10 a pound for shelled pecans at my local grocery store. I spent some time thinking of all the time I used to spend in Faison as a boy, when my grandfather, and great grandmother were alive. Then, as usual, I got that weird, pulling feeling; the idea if things were a bit different I might have grown up here. That induces nostalgia and panic at the same time, and I never can resolve what it all means. No matter, I’ll be at Faison Market Day again next year. Hope you’ll join me.
Pictures from the day above. My only comments are’ I am still trying to wrap my head around “Flying Horses.” Also, if I could get my hands on a fireman’s jump suit with “Calypso” on the back, I might consider wearing it 7 days a week.