Eno River fest kicks off Durham summertime
Despite sheriff’s “Do Not Cross” tape that kept festival goers from getting swept up in the strong, frothing Eno River current, children still found pockets of small streams to jump in and cool off Thursday.
The Festival of the Eno kicked off its 34th year on the Fourth of July, and hundreds descended upon the woods and old mill to listen to local music and eat fair food. The event, organized by the Eno River Association, raises money to preserve the Eno River basin.
Five-year-old Ila Gocke, engulfed in an apron, painted bright pink fish and flowers on a rain barrel as part of a green art project started by Recyclique on Hillsborough Road. Her mother, Dara Shain, looked on, sometimes dipping her own paint brush into the splattering of colors offered in an egg carton. This is her 19th year at the Eno.
“I come every year,” Shain said. “Ila has been coming since she was a baby. …It just wouldn’t be a Durham summer without coming here.”
Volunteers with the Piedmont Wildlife Center showed off a small box turtle and a barn owl named Athena. Apex resident Lori Stevens, along with her daughters, Jessica and Jenna, marveled at a black and white king snake.
Stevens said the Eno event reminds her of when she was a college student attending the Hudson Clearwater Revival, another big music fest that instead raises money for Hudson River preservation.
“People would camp out and listen to music,” Stevens said. “These are my people.”
A few tents down, beekeeper enthusiasts with the Orange County Beekeepers Association showed off a live hive. Mark Taylor from Wilmington and Shannon Gibbard from Boone took a look at the bees while they walked their dog.
Gibbard, who said it was pouring up in Boone during the holiday, agreed with her boyfriend that this was the right place to be, among enthusiastic groups of composters, gardeners and conservationists.
“It’s cool to just be able to be sustainable,” Gibbard said.
Teens walked around with fresh henna tattoos and others drank lemonade underneath the afternoon sun. Families played a game of chess on a giant chessboard in the grass. People stood by the river, barefoot in the mud, watching the rise and fall of its strong currents.
Sweet melodies from a fiddle and banjo rose and fell on stage as the Five Points Rounders led the audience in a square dance. Young and old began to circle up and join hands, bouncing on their toes to the country bass.
“Find your original partner for one last swing,” the singer announced, and college students laughed at their own shaky steps.
Couple Joan and Steve Levitt from Hillsborough said they’ve been coming to the Eno fest for 31 years because they love to dance. They’re both with the Apple Chill Cloggers, which performed earlier that day at the festival. But that afternoon, they danced as a duo, in the mud along the stage, to the down-home country tunes.
“When you hear music like that, you can’t not dance,” Steve Levitt said. “It comes through our bones and we have to dance.”