Midland festival offers small-town charm and magic

Remember searchlights?

You'd be riding home at night, hunkered down in the back seat of the car, when you'd notice a bright light cutting across the sky, and you'd beg your parents to go find the source.

Too often it turned out to be used-car lot or mattress sale. But next weekend, the big searchlight will guide folks toward Midland, where magic awaits.

The 10th annual Midland Magic Festival will be Saturday and Sunday on the grounds of the Midland Fire and Rescue Department, on U.S. 601. The festival is two days of small-town charm: music, food, rides, contests, performances, demonstrations and lots of opportunity to visit with old friends.

Admission to the festival is free, and kids can enjoy the rides all day for $10. Personally, I'd rather eat than ride, and festival food is something to celebrate all by itself: fried dough, barbecue, cotton candy. You could spend the whole weekend sampling it all.

There will also be plenty of good music. You can find the complete music schedule (with enough variety to please everyone) on the event's website:

A crowd favorite every year is the fireworks show, which will begin 9 p.m. Saturday. Bring your lawn chair and come early to enjoy music by SuperGlide, then stay for a great fireworks display.

Other favorite festival events will be returning. Marvin's Magical Pooch Pageant is always a popular event, as it awards prizes in unusual dog categories: Best Tail Wagger, Best Kisser and Best Trick have been winners in past shows. Everyone is excited to see what contest organizer Trent McCoy has in mind for this year.

Sonya Reynolds is a member of the planning committee for the Midland Magic Festival. She said the group really wants to draw attention to two events in particular.

First is the Magic Raffle. Tickets are just $1, and there are great prizes, beginning with $500 cash for the winner. Every year, money raised at Midland Magic has been used for town improvements, such as lights on the ball fields at Bethel Elementary, the flags you see as you drive into Midland, or contributions to the fire department. So the raffle is not just an opportunity to win prizes, it's also a way to help the community.

The committee is also very excited about the second annual Magic Barbecue Chef Cook-Off. There's a $500 grand prize awaiting the best Boston butt or pork ribs. The judging will be Sunday afternoon, and information on entering the contest is on the website.

Sonya Reynolds helps prepare for the festival every year because, she said, she loves seeing all the people who come out to enjoy the best of Midland.

It's a great atmosphere for family fun, with something for everyone. So follow the big light to Midland next weekend. You'll be glad you did.