Tom Johnston thought he’d created a fictitious town when he wrote China Grove for the Doobie Brothers in 1973. He learned later during an interview that there was a real China Grove in Texas and North Carolina. Karen and I visited China Grove in North Carolina for their 36th Annual Farmers Day on Saturday (7-15-2017).

China Grove is still very much a farmers’ town. You won’t find boutique items in Goodman’s Farm Supply on Main Street.

When small towns party they shut down a stretch of Main Street, vendors set up shop and bands come to play.

A roving clown kept kids and adults entertained by juggling and tying balloon animals.

A lot of famous musicians got their start playing county fairs and small town celebrations. Karen and I were both impressed by the the sisters that call themselves Gal Friday playing on the small stage in a park area off Main Street. They’ve opened for some of Country Music’s biggest stars and I expect we’ll see lots more of these talented ladies.

Lauren Wilson, Ashley Min and Melissa York rocked southern country with energetic irreverence.

There was a milking booth for kids that lasted until the cow ran dry. To keep from upsetting the milk maker, the chain saw carver did not start up until she left.

The chips were flying with only a large mesh screen between viewers and the frenzy of motorized carving.

I’ve seen a lot of uses for John Deere equipment, but Karen figured that making ice cream was an example of the green machinery at its handiest. “Nothing churns like a Deere.”

“Homemade Ice Cream While You Wait” read the sign above the John Deere powered churn. Karen went for the peach flavored ice cream, which was their best seller.

It was around 2:00pm when a thunderstorm blew into town and shut down the show for about an hour. Many of the vendors packed up after the wet blow. Closing time was 4:00pm for them anyway.

Karen and I waited out the driving rain under a store awning with a great view.

The local kids enjoyed the rushing water along the curbs on both sides of Main Street. The antique tractors and 1800s era stagecoach took it all in stride.

The storm dumped a lot of rain in little time, but no real flooding and the farmers knew it was good for their crops. The sky cleared and Farmers Day 2017 continued with few spirits dampened.

We stopped at the China Grove Roller Mill on our way out. They’ve done a great job preserving the machinery, building and history of this place. 

The massive cotton mill, the roller mill and the railroad stop that were driving forces in China Grove’s past are silent now, but farmers still raise their crops and make a fine living here. I hope China Grove continues to celebrate Farmers Day for many years to come. 





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