WEAVER — In this city’s Elwell Park on Saturday, 9-year-old Austin Martin wasn’t sure where to start.
The tent selling soda cans cut and shaped into airplanes complete with rotors designed to spin in the wind caught his eye first among the many crafts sold by vendors in Weaver’s annual Heritage Day festival. The festival is meant to commemorate the city’s incorporation, 74 years ago this year.
“I like it because there’s a lot of stuff you can get,” Martin said. Among the first things he’d gotten, won from a booth with a carnival-style game involving rubber ducks, was a pink plastic pig that oinked when Martin squeezed it.
His grandparents, Kathy and Travis Evans, brought him to the annual festival, which fills the city park with crafters and food vendors, live music, and, invariably, hundreds of people.
The couple said they come each year, and were impressed this year with the size of the event. It stretched out across the park’s walking track beneath tall pines, a cloudless blue sky above.
“This is the largest one I’ve seen,” said Travis Evans.
Weaver’s mayor, Wayne Willis, was proud of that fact Saturday morning. He walked around the park’s grounds, wearing a shirt that read “Elect Wayne Willis” to Alabama’s 12th Senate district, handing out campaign materials.
More than 100 vendors had applied to sell goods at the festival this year, Willis said, “a record high for us.”
“Our goal is to fill up the whole park,” he said.
Local people milled around the booths that’d been set up earlier that morning, and were thick around Eric Thompson’s spot. He drove from Auburn to sell signs carved from wood.
Last year, he’d brought around 1,500 signs, painted with scripture or made in the shape of popular sports teams’ logos. Thompson said he’d nearly sold out then. He couldn’t say how much he’d make Saturday.
“This is always good for us,” he said of the festival.
It had started earlier that morning, with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Weaver Fire Department. The agency’s chief, Brian Bunn, said they’d sold slightly more breakfasts this year than last. He didn’t know how much money that had raised, but said it would go toward new gear for his firefighters.
Later in the day, attendees — many of them Weaver residents — browsed food trucks and tents set up in a small parking lot next to the park. They found hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue, lemonade and cotton candy for sale.
Donna Fathke sat beneath a large metal pavilion, newly added to the parking lot this year to provide shade to the festival-goers. The Oxford woman was impressed.
“They do a better job every time,” she said.
Her brother, Pete Fathke, sat across a picnic table from her. He didn’t have a previous year to judge from — he was visiting from Illinois — but said he’d enjoyed browsing the festival.
He and his wife had been on their way to a favorite vacation spot in Florida. Irma, the storm system expected to hit that state Sunday morning as a category 4 hurricane, changed those plans.
Fathke said he’d enjoyed himself despite the change, though.
“It’s nice to get outside,” he said.