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Festivities by the lake come off with barely a hitch

South Boston News / July 24, 2013
A tired but happy Sheila Cuykendall, Clarksville Chamber of Commerce executive director, proclaimed Lakefest 2013 a resounding success after tens of thousands of people descended on town this week in search of music, fireworks, shopping and fun.

The sentiment was widespread among restaurant owners and shopkeepers around town, who enjoyed a boost in activity with the arrival of Clarksville’s biggest party of the year.

The crowd that filled the parking lot behind Wells Fargo bank on Friday night for opening ceremonies rematerialized first thing Saturday for the vendor sales and street fair along Virginia Avenue. By 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning, the thoroughfare was packed with vendors and shoppers. Cuykendall said she could not give an estimate of the crowds, but noted at one point on Saturday, Virginia Avenue was a sea of people from the Business 58 bridge to the west end near the Dollar General store.

Eleven-year-old Destiny Townes of Chase City, this year’s Lakefest Idol winner, delighted listeners on opening night with her rendition of Adele’s “Someone Like You.” The party continued as local musicians, JB and The Get Down Browns, rocked the night until 10 p.m.

Lakefest drew 192 vendors, of which nearly one-half were here for the first time, said Cuykendall. There was also a greater variety of food vendors, she said — offering everything from all-American burgers and fries to Japanese, Thai and Greek dishes. Cuykendall said one of the more popular attractions was the “Sweet Frog” truck. Sweet Frog is a premium frozen yogurt company based in Richmond.

Although the weather prevented the hot air balloonists from flying as often as they would have liked, Thursday night turned out to be perfect weather for tethered flights at the Lake Country Industrial Park on Noblin Farm Road. Brenda Farris said the balloonists gave over 300 tethered rides, “the highest number ever in the history of Lakefest,” she added.

One reason the balloonists return to Clarksville each year is because of the gracious and special treatment they receive, said balloonmeister Bubba Winston. This year, in addition to the small fuel stipend raised by Farris from the Chamber of Commerce and local residents, the Clarksville Ruritan Club presented each balloon team with an additional $100.

Lakefest was also a great day for the Lake Country SPCA, which held a 50/50 drawing. By the end of the day, the pot had grown to $9,540. The winner would have walked away with $4,770, but instead of keeping the money, raffle winners Carol and Ed Brown donated it back to LCSPCA to go towards the cost of a new building.

Of course, it’s not Lakefest without a spectacular show of fireworks on Saturday night. This year, the crowd was treated to an awe-inspiring display of color, thanks to the efforts of Randy Gupton.

Clarksville Town Police, whose officers were out in force all day, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the event. Officer James Crawford said the most serious problem that police encountered was the traffic on Saturday night after the fireworks.

Cuykendall gave special thanks to everyone who helped make Lakefest 2013 a success: “We couldn’t do it without them!” Lakefest sponsors were H-P (Hewlett Packard), the Clarksville Ruritans, Wells Fargo, Benchmark Community Bank, Halifax Regional Health Systems, Lake Country Satellite, Signs & Designs, The Mecklenburg Sun, The News Progress, Best Western on the Lake, CMH, Lake Motel & Efficiencies, Lakes Media, Century 21 on the Lake, Simmons & Associates Realty, Tri-Country Gastroenterology, Town of Clarksville, Carter Bank & Trust, Citizens Community Bank, Clarksville Marina, Mecklenburg Electric, Virginia Avenue Mall, Delta Power, Matthews Sanitation, N’Touch Wireless, Circle K, Southside Marine & Auto, Clarksville Auto Supply and Bruce Woener.

She also thanked Lakefest committee members, who work throughout the year to pull off the event: Tara Murphy, Wendy Feild, Lori Hamlet, Jeff Jones, Barbara Martin, Terry Denton, Kathy Barretta, and those who helped the day of the event: Barbara Mason, Stephanie Bailey, Jeanie Williams, Mike Wagstaff, Janet Cameron, Janet Moncure, Annette Church, Brian Morris, Diane Reeves, Mary Reeves, Mr. and Mrs. Harvell, Charlie Simmons, Kathy Whitten, Chris Bailey, Josh Glasscock, Mary Cherry, Sherry and Mary Guerrant, Kayla Royster, Jeff Jones and daughter, Charles Davidson, Mike Lyons and J.C. Eldreth, and Betty DeOrnellas.

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