New Bern's annual signature event draws large crowd despite rain date

It’s a little cooler and a whole lot later this year, but MumFest has arrived in downtown New Bern, drawing thousands with its annual mix of street performers, police dogs, shows, booths, food-a-plenty… and mums. Yes, there are mums, too.

The annual MumFest usually hits town the second weekend of October but, in 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit that weekend as well, and so the Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation opted to back the event up by a month.

The festival opened Saturday morning and will run through Sunday afternoon. Venders and showmen are occupying stretches of street along Middle, Craven, East Front and Broad streets, while portions of Pollock Street are also closed off for the event.

Carnival-style rides are offered along the green off the Broad Street traffic circle.

Sunny weather and temperatures in the mid-50s drew a large crowd for opening day. Mixing with the families and indivduals who strode the streets or stood in line for a chance at barbeque, costumed characters also wandered about.

There was the cow from Chick-fil-A and the big-nosed Pizza-Pizza guy from Little Caesar’s. An 8-foot clown named EZ Cozy stood waist, head and shoulders above the crowd, laughing and talking with children and adults.

The silver drummer girl was back, standing on her pedestal as still as a china doll until someone drops change into her bucket: then she proceeds to perform a half-minute piece on her snare drum before slipping back into statue mode again. Remembering her from a year or so ago, it looks like she got new clothes.

Among the performers are the Yo-Yo Man, the Spin-Man and Alex Clark, a juggler.

K-9 demonstrations and motorcycle demonstrations were held on Craven Street while bands and chorales were dotted about the festival area, tucked into storefront entryways and the Bank of the Arts.

Saturday’s 9 to 5 regular hours were scheduled to be followed by a MumFest concert with Eric Paslay, Jordan Davis and Emily Minor at Tryon Palace (tickets were extra).

Bryan Mayer will perform Sunday afternoon.

Among the displays visitors can see (and, often, climb into) are fire trucks at the Firemen’s Museum, an 1890s stagecoach on the lot at Broad and Middle streets, and Vietnam era helicopters on East Front Street near the traffic circle.

A Kid’s Corner is sponsored by the Sun Journal featuring EZ and KoZee the clowns and magician Gary Shelton.

Sunday’s hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Maps and guides can be found at the festival, in this past Thursday’s Sun Journal, or online at mumfest.com.