DOBSON — As the Surry County seat, Dobson is visited by average citizens on weekdays for court sessions and to pay taxes, while others might work at Wayne Farms or take classes at the community college.
Who knew the town also could be a fun place?
But that was certainly the case Saturday when huge crowds descended on Dobson for the Spring Folly, a two-day event held for the seventh year.
Nearly every square foot of Dobson Square Park, the host venue, seemed to be filled with people — mostly families waiting in long lines for carnival-type rides with names such as “Cyclone” and “Wipe Out.” Others munched on food items including barbecue and rib-eye sandwiches or sipped lemonade and other beverages, supplied by a variety of vendors nearby.
The common denominator seemed to be enjoyment.
“It’s good to see the smiling faces around here,” Town Manager Josh Smith said in between sales at a ticket table, where attendees could plunk down $10 and have access to “anything you want to ride on all day.”
There were nine rides altogether, including bounce house attractions, being supplied for the 2018 festival by a new company.
“This is our third year doing a carnival-type event,” Smith said of a decision that has been a hit with the public.
The fun on the surface did obscure a cold, hard business aspect to the Spring Folly which involves the costs of holding the event — and that situation had the town manager smiling.
After getting under way Friday at noon, crowds ranging from 2,500 to 3,000 people were noted, which Smith could pinpoint due to wristband sales for the rides.
“By the close of last night, we’d already covered all our expenses for the event.”
Around 3 p.m. Saturday, Smith reported more of the same.
“We’ve easily had 3,000 come out today so far,” he said.
This means all money taken in Saturday was gravy, aided by Mother Nature.
“Of course, something we can never predict is the weather,” Smith said. “It’s been perfect.”
Boost for the town
The success of the Spring Folly does not translate into a moneymaking proposition for the town, but funds a series of community events later in the year such as movie nights, concerts and car shows.
“All money we make here today allows us to continue to provide all kinds of stuff,” Smith said of activities open to the public. “Everything we offer during the summer is free.”
He said the building of Dobson Square Park has made all this possible, including the county seat becoming more than just a place for conducting governmental business.
“It’s transformed our town,” Smith said. “It’s nice to bring people into town for a change, instead of everyone exiting at five o’clock.”
The popularity of the Spring Folly likely will lead to the event being expanded next year, allowing the addition of rides and more space for people to spread out over the grounds.
But attendees were happy with the present setup.
“We’re enjoying it,” Theresa Chandler of Dobson said Saturday while taking pictures of her young daughter, Alea Gordon, on a trampoline ride.
Chandler said she had never attended the Spring Folly before, although other members of her family had, and on Saturday she was part of a group of six who headed there mainly for “the rides.”
The event even brought folks from Mount Airy, including Librarian Pat Gwyn and her grandchildren Olivia Gwyn, 10, and Porter Gwyn, 5.
Pat Gwyn, also attending for the first time, said she was drawn by fun scenes from the Spring Folly on Friday night, “pictures on Facebook that some folks had posted.”
Meanwhile, the heavy attendance was a welcome sight for local church, civic and other groups selling an array of food and additional products.
Among those doing a brisk business was Solid Rock Baptist Church, supplier of items headlined by rib-eye sandwiches.
“They’ve had to go out twice already today to re-stock,” Smith said.
“We’ve done twice as much (business) as we did last year,” church member Tim Shreve confirmed.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.