Fun fall festival

Published 9:00 pm Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hundreds of people lined the streets on Saturday morning to watch the 17th annual Driver Day parade come down Kings Highway and turn on Driver Lane. Parade participants included the Nansemond River marching band, antique cars, the Isle of Wight court, souped up golf carts, monster trucks, Civil War re-enactors and even a barbecuer.

Driver Days a hit with kids, adults

The Driver Days festival on Saturday was a far cry from what Janet Gibbons remembers 17 years ago, when Craig Parker organized the first festival.

On Saturday morning, hundreds of people lined the streets — in some areas three rows deep — to watch the parade, which kicked off the weekend’s festivities, as it proceeded down Kings Highway and made a left at Driver Lane.

“It’s amazing what it’s turned into,” said Gibbons. “When it first started, the streets weren’t even closed off. You could drive right though. The parade was much smaller, and there were just a handful of vendors. It’s really turned into something, though. It’s a little bit of pride for those of us who live here. I bring my grandkids every year.”

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Driver Days is held each year in the village that is tucked away at the intersection of Kings Highway and Nansemond Parkway and includes a full weekend of entertainment.

Hope Warne takes a big bite out of a turkey leg at the 17th annual Driver Days, which continue through Sunday.

The smell of funnel cakes and barbecue wafted through the air while families watched the parade, but it didn’t distract the children in the audience from getting down to business.

“I like the candy and hanging out with my friends,” said Carter VanHonten, counting his candy that he had collected.

While it was clear that for many children the free candy from the parade floats — especially this year’s monster truck — was their favorite part of the event, the vendors, the food and the community were popular amongst the parents.

“Our favorite part is the food,” Sharon Brannegan, Carter’s grandmother, who visits with the four grandkids every year. “It’s also about the community and the kids. I lived in Virginia Beach before this, and we never had anything like this. It’s really about community.”

Gibbons said she always finds something from one of the vendors lining the streets to take home. This year, she got a new cutting board.

Ginger Warne came to Driver Days after her family moved to the area last year, and she knew she’d be back again this year.

“Last year was just memorable,” Warne said. “My husband was deployed at the time, but I knew we’d have a good place to come back to when he got home.”

“If they have turkey legs, it’s a good event,” her husband Stephen said while holding a turkey leg for their daughter to take a bite.

The event will continue on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vendors, crafters, a silent auction, Civil War re-enactors, food, entertainment, car and bike shows and children’s activities will be on-site. Events exclusive to Sunday will include a poker run that will ride through town at 1 p.m. and a hot-dog eating contest at 12:30 p.m.

Most parking fees are $5.

Free parking and a free shuttle operate from Nansemond River High School.