As a prelude to Mayfest, Dearing residents gathered on Feb. 24for their annual Chili, Stew and Soup Cook-off.
The Dearing Mayfest on May 5 will look a little different, Clerk-Treasurer Judy Reeves said Friday.
“Our theme this year is to be the Big Top Circus,” Reeves said. “We’re gonna have some aspects of circus, more like games with a circus atmosphere. We usually have the big white tent, but we’re looking at getting more of a circus tent.”
One major aspect of Mayfest will not change. “It’s always the first Saturday in May,” Reeves said.
“The parade starts at 9 a.m. on the highway and comes around to the front of the old school, and we have the Pledge of Allegience and opening,” she said.
Like the Mayfest, proceeds from the chili cook-off will go to the Good Samaritan House, a free health clinic in Dearing.
Reeves used the occasion to congratulate the Dearing Volunteer Fire Department on its work, which earned residents a break on their homeowners’ fire insurance. “The fire department is a volunteer fire department, and they got the ISO rate down from an 8 to a 4,” Reeves said Friday. “It took about five years of work to get that done. There is so much training and documentation.”
She presented a plaque to Fire Chief Danny Cason and firefighters Jason Powell, George Holliman and Jay Spear.
Reeves claimed first place in the chili cook-off. Ann Washington placed second and Stephen Morris was third. Morris also took first place in the stew cook-off, and Claudia Kelley was second. Sandi McCorkle won the soup cook-off, with Jake Street in second place.
Gladys Rodgers served as auctioneer at the bake sale following the chili dinner.
Reeves said the goal of this year’s Mayfest once again is to raise money for the Good Samaritan House, a free health clinic that’s open on Monday afternoons. “The building is owned by the Dearing Baptist Church and they make it available, but we’ve given money to help them have lab equipment and various things,” Reeves said. Dr. Sandy Turner from MCG oversees the medical care at the clinic. Last year, the festival raised $12,000.
The town started the festival to raise money to renovate the school gym, Reeves said. The first festival raised $10,000. The town also got a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to renovate the gym.
Area firefighters, police and media helped to judge the chili cook-off.