Franklin events reflect vibrance of spring

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 10, 2024

City staff and elected officials were in agreement that the 2024 Franklin Spring Fest and Franklin Fun Fair Carnival were unqualified successes.

Franklin Director of Tourism A’Risha Jones described Saturday, April 20, as “a fantastic day” for the Spring Fest and the Franklin Farmers Market’s seasonal grand opening. Both events took place along Main Street in downtown Franklin.

Jones noted that an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 patrons attended the festival.

“The Spring Fest and Farmer’s Market buzzed with energy and excitement from farm-fresh produce to local crafts and the downtown businesses,” she said. “Thank you to everyone who joined us for a day filled with laughter, music and community spirit. Your support made this event a resounding success!”

Interim Franklin City Manager Darlene Burcham reported during the Monday, April 22, City Council meeting that there were 123 vendors participating in the festival, and 14 vendors populated the Franklin Farmers Market.

Jones noted that the city enjoyed having the Richmond-based Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ participation in the Franklin Spring Fest via the VMFA on the Road Artmobile. The artmobile drew 300 visitors.

“(The VMFA’s) visit was a testament to the power of art to unite and uplift, leaving an indelible mark on all who attended,” Jones said.

During the April 22 council meeting, Ward 2 Councilman Ray Smith said, “I’d like to mention how well the (festival) went over and the hard work that the staff has put into this undertaking, … and it appeared to be very successful. I know I was there downtown all day, and a lot of people participated, a lot of children. So congratulations to your staff.”

Burcham said, “I appreciate the comments about the staff, because they really do give it their all for those kinds of events, and that’s an extra day of the week for them to work, because they work Monday-Friday and then have to come in early and work late on that Saturday in order to make that a successful event.”

Ward 4 Councilman Dr. Linwood Johnson also noted that the Spring Fest was a success.

“I had a chance to speak with a lot of the vendors, and they were saying they’re coming also to the Fall Fest,” he said. “They look forward each year to doing that, and I think that that’s a good asset to our community, and it speaks well that we make that available for them, and they’re willing to come from different areas — Richmond, North Carolina and other areas — for our spring and fall festival. I think that’s a good thing.”

Jones also highlighted the Franklin Fun Fair Carnival as a notable source of excitement. The event, which ran from Thursday-Sunday, April 18-21, featured a variety of food options and carnival rides situated along Armory Drive in front of Walmart.

Burcham said, “I think they’ve already planned to come back next year. They did, I think, have a minor hiccup that they had to close early one day because of some issues, but that didn’t seem to deter the people that wanted to go and be there for that particular event.”

Franklin Mayor Robert “Bobby” Cutchins said he circled the town a few times on Saturday evening, going through the downtown area and down Armory Drive to observe the impact the events had on Franklin.

“I looked on Armory Drive, and there were cars wrapped around Wendy’s, they were wrapped around Dairy Queen, all the restaurants on that end were full, and so the fair brought a lot of people to Franklin,” he said. “And downtown, Saturday, was super busy, and Saturday night, the restaurant on Main Street, Serve Restaurant — it had one of the best nights it’s had this year. So it just goes to show you what bringing people to the community does. So shoutout to everybody that had a hand in that.”

Burcham said, “And some of those people may, after that visit, decide they want to become a part of this community, so that’s what’s so critical about activities that bring people into your city.”