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Thousands flock to the Honeybee Festival in Kernersville

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A bee hive on display at the Cagle Family, of Kernersville, vendor booth during the 2013 Honeybee Festival at Fourth of July Park in Kernersville on Saturday. (Bruce Chapman/Journal)

KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — Craig Cagle’s bees are just like family to him.

“They are a part of me,” he said. “I don’t know what I’d do without them. I do care for them. It’s kind of like a farmer. He cares for his livestock.”

He has two yards in Kernersville where he keeps 16 hives.

About 60,000 bees are in each hive so he estimates his extended family is between 900,000 and 1 million.

Cagle sold some of The Cagle Family honey and other items Saturday at the Honeybee Festival at Kernersville’s Fourth of July Park. Organizers estimated that 10,000 people attended the popular annual festival.

“It was a great event,” said Ernie Pages, the director of the Kernersville Parks and Recreation Department, which is the host of festival. “It went smooth in the beginning, and it went smooth all day.”

Activities included concerts on the main stage, crafts and food. Children had a variety of activities to choose from, including a puppet show, story-telling and face-painting.

Some of the heaviest foot-traffic at times was at the chainsaw carving and the Triad blacksmith demonstrations, as well as the vendor tables that sold honey.

Festival-goers said they were glad they attended the event this year.

Linda Comstock of Greensboro was at the festival with her daughter, LeighAnne, and her friend, Cindy Bumgarner of Kernersville.

“I think that it’s fun,” said Comstock. “I love these community things.”

Bumgarner said they primarily wanted to check out the jewelry vendors.

Thomas Kirk of Raleigh and his fiancée, Diana Interlandi of Colfax, watched a blacksmith demonstration as Paul Spainhour of Lewisville forged an “S” hook.

Kirk said he had never seen a blacksmith at work and was glad the trade hasn’t been lost.

“It’s great to see that people are still doing that,” Interlandi said.

Neither of them had been to the Honeybee Festival before.

“There are a lot of diverse things to do here — things to watch, things to buy, things to eat,” Kirk said. It’s a nice mix.”

Spainhour, who is a member of the Triad Chapter of the N.C. Artist Blacksmith Association of North America, said that the Honeybee Festival is a great opportunity to expose people to a craft that is not as widely used today as it was in the past.

Several vendors said they were pleased with the number of people who were stopping by their booths or tables.

Beeseentials of Greensboro sold a skin cream with a beeswax and honey base.

Owner Rosanna Ames, who had almost sold out, called the festival a huge success.

She said she was having better sales at the Honeybee Festival than she had had on her best days at larger festivals and believes it’s because of her product’s bee connection.

“People are really open to it and trying it,” Ames said.

Owner Tara Kercheval of Lily Leaf Soaps sold handmade soaps and lotions, as well as salt scrubs.

Her husband, Jason, said that sales ebbed and flowed but overall business had been pretty good.

“There’s been a steady flow of people coming,” he said.

Cagle, who has been in the beekeeping business for about eight years, expected to sell out of his honey by the time the festival ended at 5 p.m. Saturday. Cagle’s mentor, the late Brady Mullinax, inspired the Honeybee Festival, which started in 1975.

“This is the only one I do,” Cagle said of the festival. “I usually do sell out. It pays for the food for the bees.”

Credit: The Winston-Salem Journal