By Elly Cosgrove | May 21, 2021 at 11:14 PM EDT – Updated May 21 at 11:47 PM
WHITE LAKE, N.C. (WECT) – A popular festival makes its return after it was cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
The 43rd White Lake Water Festival kicked off at Goldston’s Beach Friday at 5 p.m. with plenty of sunshine, live music and dancing.
“I come, look forward to this festival every year except last year due to covid, so I couldn’t make it,” said Richard Bowens from Riegelwood, N.C.
Johnny Edge is a longtime visitor and now resident of White Lake. His family has had a place in the area since 1925. Edge said they look forward to the festival every year.
“To be able to be with friends and get out here and dance and be with everybody — my wife was saying we haven’t danced for over two years and primarily because of covid and you just couldn’t get out and be with your friends,” he said.
Edge and his wife made sure to make their way to the dance floor Friday night.
The festival comes as one of the primary venues for the event gets a facelift. Goldston’s Beach has had a complete renovation for its 100th year. Jake Womble, a descendant of H.P. Goldston who started Goldston’s Beach back in 1921, says a lot of work has been done in the last six months.
“Everyone has been very positive,” Womble said. “Obviously, to your earlier point covid, you know, put a damper on things the last year or so. But we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback. People that have been coming here for 50 to 60 years are excited to see a revamp of the property.”
The shops and restaurant at Goldston’s will have a more modern feel after the upgrades, and a bar and patio has been added to the property as well. The arcade has also been completely renovated.
“It looks a lot different. I used to run a float stand over here back when I was a teenager — that was about 60 years ago,” Edge said. “It’s a lot different. The Wombles — and the people that affiliated with the Wombles — they’ve done a wonderful job.”
People aren’t the only ones who missed the festival last year — businesses did too. Terri Dennison, with the Elizabethtown-White Lake Chamber of Commerce, said the event gives the area a huge boost every year.
“This is probably one of the biggest economic booms for this area, especially for White Lake and for Bladen County,” Dennison said. “A lot of people coming into the area this weekend spend a lot of money, not only here in White Lake — they’re going to be eating over in Elizabethtown; if they’re here in their vacation home, they’re shopping at the supermarket over there. You’ll see Dominos from Elizabethtown up and down White Lake Drive tons of times over the weekend.”
Dennison said she expects thousands to come out for the festival over the course of the weekend.
On Saturday there will be a parade that kicks off at 10 a.m. along with more live music and food trucks at Goldston’s Beach.
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.