The March meeting of Wayneâ€™s Second Friday Feast took on somber tones for co-organizer Celia Deese. It marked the 10th anniversary of the death of her brother and feast founder, Wayne Griffin.
â€œHe conducted the feast for 18 months before he died of congestive heart failure,â€ said Deese.
She remembered the time that Griffin called on his sister and her husband, Paul, to speak with them about the feast.
Deese said Griffin knew he was dying.
â€œHe asked us to carry on the feast,â€ said Deese, adding it didnâ€™t take anytime at all to make a decision. â€œItâ€™s something we wanted to do because we knew and still know that seniors enjoyed the feast.â€
Deese said after her brother passed away, the group decided to honor Griffinâ€™s memory by naming the feast after him.
The group also decided to meet on the second Fridays instead of continuing to meet on the first Friday of each month.
Denver couple Howard and Jeanette Counts have been coming to the feast since its inception.
â€œWe probably started coming one or two months after it started,â€ said Jeanette Counts.
The Counts, who have been married for more than 65 years, once operated a grocery store in Charlotte.
Thatâ€™s how they knew Paul Deese.
After moving to Denver in 1997, they started coming to the feast.
While they never met Griffin, both of the Counts said Paul and Celia Deese have done a great job with the feast.
â€œIn the early days, people ordered their food off the menu,â€ said Howard Counts. â€œNow, they charge a flat $6 per person.â€
Counts added once the feast started charging a flat rate, attendance doubled from about 50 people to more than 100.
Jeanette Counts said she remembers the days when the feast would be held at different churches throughout the area.
â€œOne day, Captâ€™n Peteâ€™s restaurant made the offer for us to meet there,â€ said Counts. â€œWeâ€™ve been meeting at the restaurant ever since.â€
While Counts said she couldnâ€™t remember how long Wayneâ€™s Feast has been meeting at Captâ€™n Peteâ€™s, Celia Deese said the group has been regularly meeting there for the last six and a half years.
â€œThereâ€™s no charge for meeting there, just for the food,â€ said Deese. â€˜You canâ€™t beat that deal.â€
For more than 6 months, the monthly feast has been standing-room-only.
â€œItâ€™s the location, people and the atmosphere thatâ€™s made the feast so successful,â€ said Deese. â€œItâ€™s also the fellowship and fun we have each month.â€
Deese added the feast is more like a family whose membership grows each month.
â€œSince I donâ€™t have a family left, they are my family,â€ said Deese, adding publicity in the Lincoln Times-News has added popularity of the feast.
Jeanette Counts agreed that members of the feast are like her family.
â€œYou canâ€™t always remember the names but you always remember the faces,â€ said Counts. â€œItâ€™s really nice to have someplace to meet.â€
Wayneâ€™s Feast meets 10 a.m. the second Friday of each month at Captâ€™n Peteâ€™s restaurant on N.C. 150 in Denver. For more information on the feast, call Celia and Paul Deese at (704) 483-4355.
by Jon Mayhew