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Watch Now: Centerfest returns to downtown Bedford for 40th anniversary
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Watch Now: Centerfest returns to downtown Bedford for 40th anniversary

Hundreds of residents flocked to downtown Bedford Saturday for a day of music, shopping, fun and games as part of Centerfest, the town's annual street festival. 

The event returned to the center of town for its 40th anniversary, met with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid- to high-80s. Last year, the festival adapted amid the COVID-19 pandemic: downsizing its number of vendors, spreading across three days and moving to Liberty Lake Park for more space.

This year, the county's residents and vendors alike were glad to see it return to fill the town's center streets with artisan crafts, live music, local nonprofits, games, face-painting, sweet treats and savory snacks. With COVID-19 case numbers increasing in the county and area in recent weeks, the festival did not feature quite as many vendors as past years, and social distancing was encouraged.

The Central Virginia Business Coalition sponsored the family-friendly festival. 

Bedford-based homemade fudge makers Gary and Susan Looze of Sweet Temptations said they missed last year's festival and were excited to be back. For over a decade, they've been positioned in the same spot at the festival each year: just outside Bell Treasures on N. Bridge Street. 

"We're glad it's going on like normal this year," Gary Looze said. "This is a chance for us to see a lot of our friends, repeat customers who we really only see once a year, and that's really important to us."

Along with classic chocolate, peanut butter and maple fudges, they also branch out into some more unique flavors like key lime, creamsicle and cotton candy. According to Susan Looze, peanut butter was the most popular flavor on Saturday. 

Various churches, nonprofits and community businesses offered free water to help patrons beat the heat, and kids were entertained by free balloons, snow cones, glitter tattoos and inflatable fair-style games. 

Bedford's American Legion Post 54 was raising money to support those affected by Hurricane Ida. Unit president Sitha Waechter said the turnout was larger than she'd expected and she was glad to see people out and about again. 

Lynchburg-based crafter Elizabeth Slaughter was happy the festival returned to downtown for that exact reason: more people coming out. Slaughter said she's been a vendor at the festival for the past five years or so, and last year's turnout was smaller than normal. 

"This is one festival I don't miss, this is a great show," Slaughter said. "The people are great."

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Education reporter

Cross covers K-12 and higher education for The News & Advance. An Asheboro, North Carolina native, Cross joined The News & Advance team in January 2020 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism.

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