Nine-year-old Erin Craft, left, handles Sobek, the Morelet’s crocodile, with the help of Corey Holstein of Eastern Exotics, right, at the 2018 Newport Community Festival. (Mike Shutak photo)

Town officials and volunteers are gearing up for the third annual Newport Community Festival, and only a few last-minute preparations are needed.

The festival officially begins Saturday at the Newport Community Park on Howard Boulevard next to the Newport Public Library and town hall.

Newport recreation event coordinator Kathy Jo Buttery said in an email Wednesday the preparations for this year’s festival are going “really well.”

All the vendors, sponsors, demonstrations and the festival’s Touch-a-Truck have been arranged, and officials are preparing some new activities, as well.

“Two events have been added this year,” Ms. Buttery said. “We’ve added a scavenger hunt that will begin (Tuesday) Sept. 3. Those who wish to participate can go to the Newport Public Library.”

Participants in the scavenger hunt may pick up packets from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. Completed packets must be turned in by noon Saturday at the information tent in front of the community park pavilion.

“At 1 p.m. we’ll draw from the stack and the first one pulled with all the correct answers will win the grand prize, filled with items donated from local businesses,” Ms. Buttery said. “There will then be five more drawings, each one receiving a prize.”

Ms. Buttery said the scavenger hunt clues will lead participants down Howard Boulevard and up Chatham Street. This area is part of Newport’s downtown.

“It will be a fun and unique way to learn about the town of Newport,” Ms. Buttery said.

The other new event coming this year is a tour of Newport. Ms. Buttery said a Carteret County Area Transportation System bus will be at the festival. Local historian Bena Weires will give a narrated tour of downtown.

“There will be two tours,” Ms. Buttery said, “the first one starting at 11 a.m. (Saturday) and the second starting at 1 p.m.”

Visitors interested in joining one of the tour groups may sign up at the information tent.

A returning event this year is the 5K run, which was added to the festival in 2018. Ms. Buttery said they had about 38 runners.

“This year we’re starting out a little slower with preregistration,” she said. “However, we had several sign up the day of the race last year. I’m anticipating the same for this year; we’re hopeful for a good turnout.”

Additional features planned this year include a food truck, a mini-food truck rodeo, Blackbeard and the Cannon Crew and live music featuring the Naked Knees.

“There will be other small features to this year’s festival,” Ms. Buttery said, “but I don’t want to spoil it.”

Last year’s turnout for the festival was more than 900 people, according to Ms. Buttery. She said she’s sure with the additional events this year, the crowd will be even bigger.

“We’re striving to improve each year,” she said. “We’ve had several local businesses who’ve graciously donated in many ways to ensure this year’s festival is a success. These businesses have donated promotional items, food and money. They’ve been a huge help.”

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