Sept. 25--MADISON -- A committee of Madison merchants began talking about bringing back a tradition from years gone by in February 2006.
That idea turned into reality eight months later in the form of the Madison Heritage Festival. At 10 a.m. Oct. 5, that committee's revived fall festival fills the town's historic downtown streets for the eighth consecutive year.
Bobby Pleasants, owner of Madison Art and Frame, was one of the dozen original committee members. Pleasants still serves on the festival's planning committee -- along with fellow original organizers Lisa Marks, Danny and Cindy Smith, Mandy Freeman and Sandy Vernon.
"We always envisioned the festival as the kind of day that had something for everyone," Pleasants said. "We want it to be the kind of event you can come to without worrying if you had enough money, because there's always enough free things going on to keep anyone in the family entertained all day. You can just bring your lawn chairs and spend the day downtown."
The unusual combination of entertainment on two separate stages, a food court with a wide variety of selections, and great collection of craftsmen -- many of them demonstrating their crafts on location -- has helped the festival continue to grow through the years.
This year's event kicks off at 10 a.m. Oct. 5 with a welcoming ceremony on center stage -- located at the intersection of Market and Murphy streets. Mike Moore from WMYN/WLOE Radio will serve as master of ceremonies.
Entertainment on the center stage begins at 10:20 a.m. with Tony Kellam performing with the New Light Refuge Temple Choir. The entertainment changes hourly after that, beginning Bullet Band at 11 a.m. and Blues Creek at noon.
This year's Madison Heritage Festival will feature a special performance by Madison's own gospel music stars, The Hoppers. The Madison Board of Aldermen recently named Oct. 5 as Hoppers Day in the town and the celebration includes placement of a special plaque honoring the Gospel Music Hall of Fame group on the front of Madison Dry Goods.
Usually on the road performing at events and sites across the nation, The Hoppers will be in town Oct. 5 and will perform live on center stage beginning at 1 p.m. as part of the award ceremony.
Local country singer Chelsea Sorrell follows at 2 p.m. Sorrell was a top 24 finalist on Season 11 of American Idol. CC Dance Company performs from 3 p.m. until 3:30 p.m., and the Bryce Street Band takes the stage from 3:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Eric and the Chill Tones return to Madison as this year's featured performers, playing on center stage from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. The band, based in the Triad area, is a popular party band that plays a mix of Carolina beach music, Motown, and 70s and 80s hits. Combining lead vocals from Eric Chilton, known to many as the chief meteorologist at WFMY News 2 in Greensboro, with the instrumental talents of a great band, Eric and the Chill Tones has become a favored musical attraction throughout the region in the last few years.
Entertainment begins at 11 a.m. on the CenturyLink Stage, located in the municipal parking lot on West Murphy Street. The Beulah Baptist Church Choir opens the musical performances there, followed by The Hard Times Band from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. CC Dance Company performs from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m., when Hubert Lawson and the Bluegrass Country Band closes out the second stage program until 5 p.m.
Nearly 100 vendors have already registered for this year's event, running a broad range from the usual arts and crafts to some unique festival foods in the food court near the CenturyLink Stage. Pleasants said the committee tries to keep the food vendor widely varied. This year's list offers the usual festival foods like hot dogs, burgers and funnel cakes, as well as some unique offerings such as roasted corn on the cob, baked sweet potatoes and Italian ices.
"There's definitely always something for everyone food-wise," Pleasants said. "And we try to make sure each vendor is unique and not competing with other vendors offering the same thing. That keeps them happy and ready to come back to Madison the next year."
This year's festival also includes a very special fundraising raffle. Pleasants said Don Key of House of Stars donated more than $4,000 in prizes for the drawing, including a grand prize of an 8-foot-by-10-foot vinyl siding storage building and four more great prizes. The drawing will be held at 6 p.m. at center stage.
The one thing Pleasants said he likes to see stay away from the annual event is bad weather.
The festival ran the gamut from cold and rainy to oppressively hot the first two years, but the weather cooperated most of the last five years.
"That's the one thing we have no control over, but we've been very fortunate most years," Pleasants said. "But our supporters have been faithful to come out and enjoy the day whether it was cold, wet or hot. That's why we still enjoy doing this. It's about Madison and the great folks that make it a great place to live and work."
(located at intersection of Market and Murphy streets)
10 a.m. -- Opening ceremonies
10:15 a.m. -- Tony Kellam & The Light Refuge Temple Choir
11 a.m. -- Bullet Band
Noon -- Blues Creek
1 p.m. -- The Hoppers, with special award ceremony
2 p.m. -- Chelsea Sorrell
3 p.m. -- CC Dance Company
3:30 p.m. -- Bryce Street Band
5 p.m. -- Eric and The Chill Tones
(located in municipal parking lot on West Murphy Street)
11 a.m. -- Beulah Baptist Church Choir
12:30 p.m. -- Hard Times Band
2 p.m. -- CC Dance Company
3 p.m. -- Hubert Lawson and the Blue Grass Country Band
(c)2013 The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, N.C.)
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