With mountain fog creeping across the landscape and Hanging Rock lingering in the background, Saturday morning had a rather ominous tone, and Danbury's Stokes Stomp was off to an interesting start...
After getting up extra early that morning to make the ride from Charlotte, the Jackson's View Team made our way through downtown Danbury and - with the help of a few very friendly parade-watchers - found Moratock Park and the 2015 Stokes Stomp just across the Dan River - and just in time for the opening parade.
A few days prior, we'd made contact with Tory Mabe at the Stokes County Arts Council to see if we could come for the weekend to try and capture some fun and eye-catching portfolio material for our fledgling aeriography business. Thanks to Tory, we were able to get settled in quickly, and were ready to capture any and every view of the morning's parade that we could.
Once we had our 'trusty bird' unpacked, and taken good old Chloe (our 14 year old and extremely faithful canine companion) on a quick walk to stretch her travel-worn legs, we headed from the parking lot to the tail end of the parade on Shepphard's Mill Rd, across the river from Town Center...
Our first encounter of the morning was with Bobby Jones, there to help as part of the Fire Department. Bobby had more questions than a hound-dog has howls, and was quite a friendly - and funny - first introduction to the folks of Stokes County. Bobby suggested we introduce ourselves to Lt. Dalton of the Stokes County Sheriff's Department, and pointed us toward an RV just down the hill in the parking lot.
Finishing our chat with Bobby and 'scoping the scene' for a quick minute, I then headed down to the RV to introduce myself to Lt. Dalton to fill him in on who we were and why we were there. After a jovial warning to the effect of "Just be careful, as we all like to shoot things here in Stokes County..." and some great conversation about the practical applications of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in law enforcement, rescue, etc. we shook hands and agreed that as long as I didn't do anything irresponsible with my quadcopter, they wouldn't shoot it out of the sky!
Around that time, the sound of marching bands wafted across The Dan, and the front of the parade peeked its head around the corner from town to begin its slow and steady trek across the bridge on Shepphard's Mill Road. From the initial firetrucks leading the way, to the floats and bands, to the classic, fun (and funky!) vehicles bringing up the rear, it had everything you'd hope for in an intimate mountain town parade.
After getting some great parade footage, we headed to check out the festival and get to know the venue a bit. Nestled in an elbow of the Dan River, Moratock Park has more than a few unique features, and it's worth checking out any time of the year! With river access right from the park, including an ample beach area to launch from (or simply lounge around on...), sports fields and a playground for the kids, complimented by historical features like the Moratock Iron Furnace, it's easy to see why this location has such a strong place of pride in the hearts of Stokes County residents.
Add to this gorgeous backdrop, a diverse collection of local vendors, organizations and musicians, all coming together for a 2-day celebration, and you've got the perfect recipe for an activity-filled weekend, all within the scenic confines of Moratock Park's grounds!
Given all those scrumptious options, The JVA Team decided to take a little time to simply soak in the event, grab some food, listen to some live music, do a little people-watching, and start planning out our next aerial views. Little did we know that the following course of events would drastically change how our weekend at The Stomp would end...
Stay Tuned For Part 2, and how KingRC helped save the weekend...