Originally created 09/04/01

Crowd braves showers to attend Rest Fest



Just as Wendy Murphy pulled into a parking space at North Augusta's annual Rest Fest, it started raining.

Undeterred, she went back home, grabbed an umbrella and a rain coat and came back. Festival fun continued for many despite Monday afternoon showers.

The festival was nestled in between Riverview Park Activities Center and the athletic fields. Two parking lots were filled with vendors serving up everything from funnel cakes and boiled peanuts to thumbprint art.

A short lighting storm caused North Augusta Public Safety Sgt. George Eakins briefly to shut off water from the fire department's ladder truck. It, in addition to the rain, had been showering children and teen-agers.

"It feels so good," said Autumn Murphy, 11, of Augusta. "I thought they were just watering the grass."

The BLAZE All-Stars, a cheerleading competition team in Aiken County, was selling thumbprint art work and face and finger nail painting to raise money for new uniforms, said Tommy Turner, a co-organizer of the event.

Beside the wet asphalt, a sea of umbrellas was scattered along the grassy hill. The people hiding under them listened to country music sponsored by local radio station WKXC-FM, Kicks 99.

This year, the station brought recording artist Cyndi Thomson as the headliner. Last year, the Rascal Flatts show was canceled because of rain and lighting, Sgt. Eakins said.

Rest Fest has a history of rain. The event began eight years ago as a Fourth of July festival, said Festival Coordinator Deloris Bodie.

But four years ago, it was rained out and re-scheduled for Labor Day. Coordinators discovered the event drew a bigger crowd on Labor Day and moved the date permanently, Sgt. Eakins said.

By 8 p.m., the crowd had swelled to more than 700 people, North Augusta Public Safety officials estimated.

"The rain has held us back, but I'm pleased with the crowd, considering," Ms. Bodie said.

Reach Carly Phillips at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.