Nancy Stafford to come back for round two
After first visiting Olde Salem Days in 2013, Nancy Stafford knew she had to return. The star, who is best known for her role as Michelle Thomas in the television show “Matlock,” says she is ready make her way back to the southeast.
“I love getting to meet the fans of Matlock,” Stafford said. “You know, I’m right there in Andy Griffith territory.”
Olde Salem Days, which is hosted each year by the Salem Rotary Club and the City of Salem, is a festival that showcases handmade arts and crafts. This year, the event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For years now, vendors from across the country have lined the streets of downtown Salem on the second Saturday of September, come rain or shine.
Barney Horrell, the chairman of Olde Salem Days, and a self-employed civil engineer, says last year’s event raised nearly $70,000, all of which went toward scholarships for local students, and toward Rotary Club community service projects.
“I haven’t lived here forever,” said Horrell. “Since ’09. I joined Rotary not so much for the business connection, but more to feel like I was part of the community. I wanted very much to immerse myself in a town with some local roots.”
Horrell says the crowd can range from 30,000 people to nearly 60,000, depending on weather. Since the event is free to the public, revenue comes from vendors renting spaces on the street to set up shop.
So far this year, there are around 400 crafters planning to attend. Horrell says that spaces on Main Street sold out by January, but spaces on side streets are still available. Vendors who still wish to apply for a spot can do so by Sept. 1 at www.oldesalemdays.com.
“We try very hard to keep it at a level where everything has to be handmade or hand-altered by someone in the booth,” said Horrell.
Stafford, who is originally from Florida and now resides in California, has Salem ties. She says she passes through the area a couple times each year. Although she stays busy acting, she is also a published Christian author, and travels the country to speak at churches and events. She is friends with Dr. Fred Eichelman of Salem, who introduced her to Horrell through the Salem Rotary Club.
“Salem is a nice little charming, small town,” Stafford said. “On Olde Salem Days, it becomes humongous. It’s so fun to see the quaint little Main Street jammed with people as far as the eyes can see.”
Horrell says Stafford has kept in touch with him through the years, and enjoyed the 2013 event so much that she booked this year’s celebrity guest appearance two years in advance.
This year will once again feature music from “Mookie and the Stray Dogs” and “Rich and Andy” at the Salem Farmers Market Main Stage. Meal options at the food court will be plentiful, and kettle corn will be available around every corner. New to the food scene this year will be donuts made on the spot, which Roanoke Farmers Market regulars should be familiar with. Local businesses are encouraged to stay open during the day.
Also back this year is the vintage car show, and plenty of children’s activities at the kids’ fair area, including face painting and bounce houses. The event is sponsored by WDBJ7 and Valley Bank. WDBJ7 television personalities will be on site for a meet and greet across from the information booth.
Horrell says that as successful as the event is now, he hopes to grow it even more in the future. One of the things he would like to do is make the event two days again, with Friday night being a Salem After Five-type concert.
A free parking shuttle will be available at the Salem Civic Center, and will drop groups off directly in front of the Salem Public Library.