Hundreds sweat out the heat, enjoy 12th annual LaurelFest

By Rachel McAuley

May 12, 2014

LAUREL HILL — Saturday’s sweltering heat did little to keep hundreds of locals and visitors from the 12th annual LaurelFest, where they browsed crafts, enjoyed a bevy of food and were entertained by Elvis himself.

“We come out to show our support,” said Arnetra Shaw, native of Laurel Hill. “There are more vendors and participants … the word really got out. I can see it growing every year.”

Vendors sold baked goods, meals and refreshments while others sold raffle tickets and gave out information about their respective organizations. Those seated in shady spots enjoyed ice-cold drinks and shaved ice.

Larnell Shaw, a native of the small town and a member of the festival’s planning committee, said the event, held on the grounds of the old Laurel Hill school, “is important for the community because it brings out people from different places all over Laurel Hill. We’re able to work together, come out to be happy and have a good time.”

Rock climbing, a playground, bounce houses and obstacle courses kept the little ones busy as their chauffeurs, commonly known as parents, rested in the shade.

Brandi McDonald said that she’s attended the event “every year since it started.”

“We come just to have fun,” she said.

“It’s something good for the kids,” added Cristy Freeman Hurtado, native of Laurel Hill. “It’s nice to see the community coming together to socialize and have a good time. I like to see the dance shows.”

On a stage set up in front of a picnic shelter an Elvis impersonator rocked the crowd in a blue and silver outfit complete with studs. Grinning spectators whipped out their cameras and camera phones as winked or pointed to the audience in the middle of a hip-shaking dance move.

Linda Simmons, a Laurinburg native, said that her family came to visit from Cary and so she “decided to bring them out here” to enjoy the local festivities.

“I love this county,” said Simmons. “There’s so much to do out here and we’re just having such a great time.”

She said that although it isn’t very big, the more people that come visit Scotland County, the more they learn about how how family-oriented and friendly everyone can be. “It’s a small town but the people know and support each other,” she said. “You’ve got people here to help you.”

“It’s a wonderful family and community event,” said Simmons as her grandson, 5-year-old Dawson Simmons, made sure she was watching while he showed off inside an inflatable obstacle course.

Rachel McAuley can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 15. Follow her on Twitter @rachelmcauley1.