38th annual festival celebrates and protects Eno River
One day down, one to go for the 2017 Festival for the Eno at West Point on the Eno.
The city park off North Roxboro Street on the banks of the Eno River is typically a tranquil place for people to enjoy nature in the heart of Durham. But on Independence Day weekend it awakens from its quiet existence to host the annual “EnoFest,” a bustling celebration of nature and local beauty.
The City of Medicine tradition turns the Eno’s shady banks into a site for music, food and local crafts. The festival features more than 70 live bands on four stages throughout the park. Food trucks serve traditional favorites like corndogs and funnel cake. Others feature international flavors like Indian and Caribbean food.
Paths that encircle a grassy field in the center of the park are lined with craft booths and artisans selling merchandise. Other activities allow festivalgoers to throw North Carolina clay on a pottery wheel, and get hands-on experience with reptiles at the N.C. Herpetological Society tent.
Festival Coordinator Greg Bell, attended the first Festival for the Eno as a 5th grader. His love for the celebration grew out of the fun he first experienced back then.
“I came because there was stuff I cared about, music and arts, my friends came, and of course the beautiful river,” Bell said. “You get fabulous music, you can swim in the river and drink cold drinks. I wish I could spend all my days like this.”
As festival coordinator, he has grown to appreciate EnoFest’s message of conservation above all.
“Here we have a whole group of people who we can call upon to oppose development,” he said. “That’s a lot of the reason we host this festival, to have people that care about nature in general and this particular river. Everyone here today has a connection to this particular river. If it is ever threatened, we hope they will rally.”
The 300-acre park at 5101 N. Roxboro St. is not far from downtown and offers an access to nature that is relatively unique to city dwellers.
“When you can live in the lofts downtown and be out here in 10 minutes kayaking, that’s a standard of living that employees throughout the world want to tap into,” Bell said.
He said the tangle between urbanization and access to nature plays a large role in the identity of Durham. The celebration of nature conservation is accompanied by a respect for local roots. Most of the vendors at EnoFest are from North Carolina and an emphasis is placed on folk music.
EnoFest’s traditions run deep, with many visitors advancing from guests to participants.
Cassandra Leigh, a Durham native, is an artist who displays her sculptures of “celestial beings” in a tent next to the Eno. She was inspired by her parents, visiting the festival with her family.
“I came here when I was a little girl. My mom was a clown here,” she said. “I have grown up in this culture and I’ve grown up to be an artist. This is something I always wanted to do.”
With her acceptance as an artist at Festival for the Eno, she decided to make a change from office life to pursue art full time. Now, she displays her organic forms of self-exploration to the public alongside Eno’s other artisans.
EnoFest opened on Saturday and resumes Tuesday, July 4. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $23 per adult, teens 13-17 $11 and children 12 and under free.
If you’re going ...
What: Festival for the Eno
When: Tuesday, July 4, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: West Point on the Eno, 5101 N. Roxboro St., Durham
Admission: $23 adult, $11 teens 13-17, children 12 and under free.
Food & Drinks
Here’s a look at food and beverage vendors scheduled to be at EnoFest.
Vimala’s Curryblossum Café — Vegetarian street food and Cold Hibiscus Tea
Liv’s Food Truck — Grilled chicken breast, Coastal Carolina crab cake sandwhich, Chipotle black bean burger, Carolina Cuban, Parmesan garlic tots, and sweet potato fries
Vegan Flava Cafe — Carrot tuna wraps, Almond seafood salad wraps, Vegetable wraps, Walnut tacos, Kale salad, Waffles (panfles)
Captain Pancho’s Food Truck — Tacos, Burritos, Spoes, Fajitas, Pupusas, and Quesadillas
Triangle Foods — Beef and Lamb Gyros, Chicken Gyros, and Steak and Prok Gyros
Charlie’s Foods — Funnel Cakes, Hot Dogs, Corn Dogs
Jamaica Jamaica — Rice, Black Beans, Yellow Fried Plantains, Stir Fried Cabbage, Jerk Chicken, Veggie, & Beef Patties, Coco Bread
Foxy Concessions — Cotton Candy, Candy Apples, Shaved Ice Snokones, Frozen Chocolate Coated Bananas, and nachos
Parlez Vous Crepes — sweet & Savory crepes
D & J Concessions — Smoothies, lemonade, soft-serve ice cream, floats, milkshakes, turkey legs, roasted corn, cheesecake on a stick, key lime pie on a stick, blooming onions, fried veggies, fried candy bars, fried pickles
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit — Pulled pork sandwiches, beef brisket sandwiches, chicken, cole slaw, baked beans, and baked potato cassarole
Orlando’s Concessions — Fried fish, grilled salmon, grilled crabcakes, fried shrimp, fench fries and slaw
Fetzko Coffees — Hot & Iced Coffee, Espresso-Based Drinks, Frozen Lattes, Iced Herbal Tea, Chai Tea, Bubble Tea, Biscotti
Locopops — Locopops ice pops
Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream — Super-premium Homemade Ice Cream and Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches
Sweetwater Brewing — 420 Extra Pale Ale, IPA, Blue, & Hash Session IPA
Bold Rock Cider — Premium Dry Cider
Eno Drink Booths — Mati Healthy Energy, Whole Foods Apple Juice, Steaz Teas, Coke, Sprite, Diet Coke, water
Festival for the Eno facts
Each year since 1980 the Eno River Association has presented the Festival for the Eno to draw thousands of folks to the shaded banks on the Eno River to sing dance and make merry with great food and crafts all while learning about natural resource conservation and raising funds for land protection in the Eno River basin.
The Festival the Eno has it’s beginnings in the NC Folklife Festival held at Durham’s newly created West Point Park in 1976 as the state’s official bicentennial celebration and featured traditional crafts, music, dance and trades demonstrations. The Festival for the Eno is still dedicated to the preservation and presentation of our rich and varied cultures and still offers plenty of hands on learning opportunities. Attendees can “throw” a pot on a clay wheel, watch a water powered grist mill grinding corn, or participate in urban farming, kayaking, weaving, and clean energy demonstrations, or participate in an old time or ukulele “jam” at the High Strung workshop stage.
That is, when they are not listening or dancing to the 60-plus hours of music on four stages, browsing the booths of 80 plus crafts artists, drinking cold beers and other drinks, or diving into the delicious offerings of more than 20 food trucks and vendors.
— Description provided by Festival for the Eno.