AMMON — Fats Domino might have found his thrill on Blueberry Hill, but plenty of people found their thrill on Saturday at the 22nd annual Blueberry Festival in Ammon.
The day began bright and early with the Ammon Volunteer Fire Department’s pancake breakfast, a highlight of the day for many folks.
“We don’t really do this to make money for us — it’s more of a community thing, a time for everybody to get together,” said Ammon Fire Chief Timothy Pait.
The line was steady, the syrup flowing, and the warm blueberries popping under the knife from 6:30 a.m. until the department stopped serving around 9:30 a.m. Pait said they move too fast to actually count how many pancakes they make, but he did know they went through 100 pounds of sausage and around 400 plates. A donation service, the breakfast usually yields the department from $500 to $1,000, “depending on how generous people are feeling,” Pait said.
At 10 a.m. began the parade. Originating on Old Fayetteville Road, participants paraded to the U.S. 242 intersection, turned right, and proceeded on to the Ammon Community Center road. Beauty queens, baton twirlers, tractors, fire departments, antique cars, the Sudan Tomcats in their little cars, elected officials, and four wheelers tossed candy and interacted with attendees while the Dunn Clowns, a fan favorite, led the paraders. The clowns, as well as the Tomcats, looped back around and made another pass, to the delight of the kids.
“They’re so funny,” said 3-year-old Tatiana Heustess, after high-fiving one of the clowns.
The Rev. Jimmy Smith officially kicked off the event with the opening ceremony, leading attendees in prayer and the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Guests under the tent then turned their attention to an auctioneer, who requested bidding for a flat of blueberries. When he opened the bidding at $100, there weren’t too many takers, but then Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker and a Dunn clown started a bidding war, but in reverse, volunteering one another for increasing bids. The flat of blueberries eventually sold to McVicker for $200. Other items in the auction included pints of locally-produced honey, which went for $30, and a portable charcoal grill donated by Bobby Taylor Oil, which someone won for $110.
Around 30 vendors had their wares for sale, including benches and Adirondack chairs by Carolina Crossroads, homemade kitchen towels and washcloths, jewelry, handbags, and, of course blueberries, which were selling for $35 per flat.
“That’s the reason I came today, for the blueberries,” said Rachel Henderson, who drove from Jacksonville to pick up four flats.
“Blueberry jam, blueberry pancakes, blueberry wine, blueberry cobbler, blueberry smoothies …” she said, in her best Benjamin Buford Blue voice.
“Things have gone really well today,” said Marguerite Coble. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Fats Domino might agree.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.