Driver festival draws huge crowd

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 24, 2005

Suffolk is the state’s fastest growing city.

But the thousands who descended upon northern Suffolk on Saturday for the 12th Annual Driver Village Fall Festival were celebrating the Norman Rockwell-like life that still thrives in the close-knit community.

“We have always loved small-town activities,” said Mike Case, who with his wife, Laura, is a festival veteran. “It’s great … and something you don’t see as often as you once did.

Email newsletter signup

“Getting the community involved gets people out and helps them get to know their neighbors.”

After eating at a pancake breakfast fund raiser at Beech Grove United Methodist Church, Pam and Paul Saunders, of Chuckatuck, joined hundreds lining the village’s main drag to wait for the parade.

“We like supporting the community,” Pam Saunders said. “The small-town America atmosphere out here helps strengthen the sense of community.”

The event, sponsored by the Driver Retail Merchants Association, will continue today. Highlights on this afternoon’s schedule include a motorcycle parade and a performance by the Hunt Family Fiddlers, an award-winning, toe-tapping Irish dancing group.

Visitors and residents alike will be able to jump start their holiday shopping at crafters market and enjoy all sorts of other activities: festival foods, hayrides, living history re-enactments, blacksmithing demonstrations and the like.

Some people go to this event for the shopping and lure of funnel cake, fresh-squeezed lemonade and homemade barbecue.

But the littlest crowd is just as pleased by simpler things n the roar of a dozen Harleys, the flashing lights and sirens on police cars, the crashing of a band member’s cymbals.

“I love the fire truck,” said Jack Cooney, 4, craning his neck as it passed him on the parade route. “And playing on the slide.”

The fall festival will run from noon to 5 p.m. today, with free shuttle rides available between Driver and Nansemond River High School.

All proceeds from the event goes to the Driver Volunteer Fire Department.