NASCAR Day returns with big crowds

Randleman Festival roars back to life to celebrate racing heritage

RANDLEMAN — Last weekend’s NASCAR Day Festival went off pretty much without a hitch as several thousand people roamed Randleman streets.

“We had a perfect weekend for it,” said Jeff Freeman, director of the festival. “The attendance was wonderful.”

Saturday’s festival came after the 2020 version was cancelled because of the pandemic. There were precautions taken for this year’s edition, but Freeman said there were largely positive reviews. Asheboro cancelled it’s annual Fall Festival for the second year in a row citing concerns over hospital capacity for such a large event. Randolph County saw an overall 50% drop in COVID hospitalizations as September came to a close with six patients hospitalized for COVID the week before NASCAR Day.

“I felt we could do a great event,” he said.

Freeman, who’s executive director of the Randleman Chamber of Commerce, said crowd estimates ranged from 10,000 to 15,000.

The presence of NASCAR legend Richard Petty was once again among the highlights. Petty, who’s from nearby Level Cross and is usually the focus of the event, made appearances.

While autograph-signing sessions with Petty were nixed because of the pandemic, he did pose for photos with festival goers.

“Some people were a little disappointed in that (there weren’t autographs),” Freeman said. “But he did have pictures made. I’d rather have that. That shows you were there with him.”

Randleman’s festival has been held for more than three decades. Part of its focus is honoring racing heritage and the Petty family.

There were also no NASCAR show cars this year. Freeman said that partly came because of the expense related to having those on site.

Freeman said festival organizers were cognizant of the concerns related to COVID-19. He said there was additional spacing between vendors and sanitation areas set up. There also was a vaccination station for anyone interested in receiving a shot.

Some vendors pulled out because of the pandemic, though that was offset by others who filled in those slots. That might have come in part because of the cancellation of Asheboro’s fall festival, which had been scheduled for two days across the same weekend.

“We did pick up vendors from other canceled festivals from throughout the state,” Freeman said.

As part of the festival’s car show, Del Crawford of Fayetteville won Best of Show along with a special award for traveling the farthest to enter that competition. Crawford brought a 1937 Ford slantback.

 

By Bob Sutton

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