Eno festival flows smoothly

Jul. 05, 2014 @ 07:40 PM

Few people can say they went to the Festival for the Eno before they were born, but Zan Bell can.
Zan was one day from birth when his mother visited the festival 13 years ago. He’s been back ever since.
“I like the music and swimming in the river,” the Chapel Hill resident said at Saturday’s 35th-annual festival on Roxboro Road. “I like jumping off a cliff into the water. It feels really nice.”
His friend, 13-year-old Mick Herrin of Chapel Hill, said he enjoyed the country music and a slice of frozen, chocolate-covered cheesecake, which he ate after his river swim.
“It was a little weird hearing what it was at first, but I tried it and it tasted pretty good,” he said.
Artist Freeman Beard didn’t swim in the river Saturday, but he’s done something more lasting: preserving the splendor of the Eno through watercolor paintings.
Freeman, retired art director for WTVD, is a full-time painter now at age 71. He brought five of his original Eno paintings that included Penny’s Bend, the legendary Sennett Hole and the old mill, along with reproductions. He’s donating part of his proceeds to the Eno River Association, which works to protect the city park.
Beard uses traditional watercolors except for white.
“I have to think backwards since I’m leaving out white, but that fits my personality,” he quipped. He plans five more Eno paintings in the next few years.
Another artist, Mike Anderson of Louisburg, was selling his handmade fiddles, and was happy to see festival-goers admire his craftsmanship.
“I’ve been a woodworker most of my life, and I wanted a challenge that would take me the rest of my life to figure out,” he said.
Anderson does home restoration by day, but his weekends are reserved for fiddling.
“I’m away from the phone and in my bare feet in my shop playing music,” he said. “What more could you ask for?”
The festival brought out many faces, none more striking than those created by artist Terry Massey.
Massey specializes in cast cement faces, some with grimaces, gnarly noses and protruding tongues. People stopped in their tracks to gaze.
“I try to go for intensity of expression,” Massey said. “It’s interesting to see how the influences around me affect the faces. One ended up looking like Captain Picard when I was watching (the TV show) ‘Star Trek.’”
Massey said he’s often surprised by how unpredictable people’s tastes are.
“There’s a lady I see at festivals who looks like everybody’s third-grade librarian -- very polite,” he said. “And she came up to me one day and said: ‘I love your work, but the problem is that it’s not grotesque enough.’ So there’s no figuring.”
One young face at the festival was 5-year-old Henry Dunlap, who was already creating good memories.
“I like the river most, because it’s water,” Henry said. “The sun that’s going into the river makes the rocks shine. I also like the strawberry ice cream.”
For Jennifer Hicks of Raleigh, the festival was a family affair that included her husband, their two children and her in-laws. She’s been to the festival for eight years and loves it every time.
“I like the music and the shade, and the people are all very laid-back,” she said. “I had a Locopop, my husband had Jamaican food and we save getting in the river for last. It’s been a great day.”