Simply Natural Creamery, located at 1265 Carson Edwards Rd. in Ayden, will be hosting their third annual ice cream festival on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The festival is open to everyone in the eastern North Carolina region and free of charge. The creamery will be open until 9 p.m. selling ice cream, according to Michael Fulcher, marketing director at Simply Natural Creamery.
The festival has been held on National Ice Cream Day, which is the third Sunday of July, for the past two years. This year, however, the creamery will be hosting the event on the Saturday before, Fulcher said.
“It’s basically a celebration of ice cream, but we have all kinds of vendors and activities for children and adults, but it’s all centered around ice cream of course. We have a wagon ride with a tour guide around the farm, as well as train rides for the kids, pony rides, face painting, and arts and crafts,” Fulcher said.
According to Fulcher, there will be four food vendors, Morris BBQ, East Coast Wings, Rock Springs, as well as a hot dog vendor. There will also be Kona Ice and popcorn available, and of course ice cream.
There will also be close to 70 commercial and craft vendors at the festival selling their products, such as local authors selling their books and chocolate vendors, as well as a DJ, John Moore, who will be performing at the festival for 5 hours, Fulcher said.
“We also have a classic car cruise-in, where people can come and show off their car. We have a tractor display as well. Those (shows) will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and we invite people to bring their classic cars out and we give them a free scoop of ice cream for participating,” Fulcher said.
According to Fulcher, the festival usually draws in attendees from surrounding areas such as Greenville, Winterville, Ayden, Kinston, Wilson, and Goldsboro. However, they also have people drive 2 hours or more to attend the festival.
The first year the festival was held, the creamery had around 7,000 attendees, and last year they saw around 8,000, Fulcher said. He believes that this year’s festival will bring out at least that many participants, if not more.
“People love the opportunity just to come out to the farm and spend the day. People really enjoy the family atmosphere. We try to make it a family-friendly event that’s open for everybody,” Fulcher said.
According to Fulcher, attendees should know their cell reception won’t be great since the festival is held on a farm, and that they should bring cash for the vendors and ice cream, as many vendors won’t be able to use chip readers.
Fulcher said Simply Natural Creamery holds this festival to give back to the local community who has been supporting them since the creamery first opened in 2014. The creamery invites everyone from the local community and surrounding areas to come celebrate and have fun.
“People are often surprised at all we offer here. If they want an opportunity on a Saturday to come out and relax and enjoy time with their family, and of course enjoy ice cream, they should come out,” Fulcher said.
Dave Ethridge, executive chef at Rock Springs, one of the food vendors at the festival, said they will be offering fresh seafood such as shrimp platters, crab cake sandwiches and soft shell crab, as well as pulled pork burgers, chicken sandwiches and nachos.
According to Ethridge, their festival menu will usually have four to six items on it, each priced between $7 to $9. There will also be an additional tent offering cold dips and refreshments for festival attendees.
“It’s (the past festivals) been wonderful. Everybody out there has been so good to us. The festival is very organized, especially with that many people attending. It’s a different festival, and there’s a lot of stuff to be seen, not just the ice cream. It’s family-oriented, and it’s just a good time,” Ethridge said.
Deanna Baker, a resident of Greenville, said she will be attending the festival with her family. She said she has attended the festival before, and that it was “lots of fun.”
She said she and her family’s favorite part of the festival was going on the hayride and trying the different ice cream the creamery offers. She said she is looking forward to having fun with her family at this year’s festival as well.
“I am looking forward to family fun day and eating some good ice cream. They had a lot of different homemade flavors of ice cream (when she attended the festival before), and it’s also fun to look at the cows and see how it’s (the ice cream) is made,” Baker said.
For more information on the festival, visit the event’s Facebook page or call Fulcher at (252)-702-2958 or Simply Natural Creamery at (252)-746-3334.