Hobo Festival needs last-minute volunteers and vendors

Mike McVay

The Rev. Mike McVay makes his presence known as the free-spirited hobo during Laurel Hill’s Hobo Festival. McVay — who has appeared as the event’s hobo for the past seven years — plans to make another appearance at the Oct. 13 festival.

MATTHEW BROWN / News Bulletin
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 01:54 PM.

LAUREL HILL — Saturday, after months of concern that it wouldn’t happen, the city of Laurel Hill will present its annual Hobo Festival.

More than 50 vendors, a bounce house, live entertainment from local musicians, an auction and — of course, food — will take focus in downtown Laurel Hill, event organizers said. Among participating organizations are The Spanish Trail Cruisers, which will display vintage cars, and members of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department horse posse. Local country music artist Robert Wayne, The Twin Hills Drummers and the local country music band River Chase will perform. 

The Rev. Mike McVay, of First Baptist Church of Laurel Hill, said he plans to reprise his role as the festival’s iconic hobo, which honors the city’s railroad history. After the Civil War, soldiers-turned-migrant-workers traveled the railroads and gave labor to local farms during pit stops in town.

However, honoring the city’s heritage and enjoying community fellowship almost didn’t happen, organizers said. Earlier this year, low volunteer participation threatened the event’s occurrence.

In July, festival committee members Anita Miller and Betty Williamson stressed the need for volunteers. Miller sent out a news release stating, "If we have no response, the October festival will be canceled due to lack of support."

One Laurel Hill dad wasn’t about to let the latter happen.

Elgin “Trae” Duley III, festival committee chairperson, said parents rely on events like the Hobo Festival to entertain their kids, but he believes the event serves a greater purpose. 

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