A Quarter Century of Service
One of Mocksville’s greatest cheerleaders is retiring. Tami Langdon has been a fixture in downtown Mocksville for more than 25 years as a volunteer, business owner, and finally as the Town’s community development coordinator. On October 1st, she will relinquish that job and resume her role as a resident. But that doesn’t mean she is ready to sit back and relax. When asked what she will do in retirement, she enthusiastically replied with a list.
“I’m going to spend time with my three very humorous grandkids. They are teenagers now and understand my personality well and really understand my sarcasm. We’ve had less time together as they have gotten older, so now is the time to be with them.”
“I inherited the care of a lovely senior after my mother’s death. She is 92 and teaches me words of wisdom. I’d also like to volunteer with other seniors who need a companion or perhaps a helping hand here or there.”
Laughingly, she added, “I should also spend some time with my husband. He won’t know what to do with me, spending all of our time together. And I’ll probably enjoy more wine. Yeah, it is for medicinal purposes, you know,” she said with a grin.
Mentoring the Next Generation
And she plans to continue to support and mentor her successor, Jennifer Evens, who joined her in June for training purposes. “I told Jennifer I’d like to hang with her till the end of December and help her get through bed races and the Christmas parade. Those events are hard with a one-person department, and I won’t do that to a new person. After that, I’ll be available to give her some hints and some pointers, but I want Jennifer to add a new young flair to this place called Mocksville. She’s got ideas for a couple of new events, which I think is great. It’s exciting to see the energy she and the new younger merchants are bringing to the Town.”
Langdon and her family moved to Mocksville from the St. Louis area almost 37 years ago. The country was heading into a recession, and her home state of Illinois seemed to be going bankrupt. Since her grandparents had property here, they decided to move to Winston-Salem. When her daughter turned 5, they moved to Mocksville because of Davie County’s excellent school system. They fell in love with the community and its friendly people. Langdon quickly got involved with Habitat for Humanity; her husband joined the Arts Council and helped “kick-off” Arts Alive.
Reviving Downtown Mocksville
Her passion for growing and revitalizing the downtown blossomed when she moved her dance studio from Farmington to what is now the Four Oaks Event Center. “The merchants would watch us as we fixed up the building inside. I thought it was curious how they turned over a little sign that said open. Then they changed the arrows on the clock for an hour and closed for lunch. Then they changed the arrows at 5 p.m. to say closed. I thought, ‘What are you doing? How are you going to get anyone here?’”
She talked to Mary Lou Musselman and other merchants and discovered that there had once been a merchant group. She quickly went to work to start it back up, hosting breakfast meetings at the dance studio.
The merchants started Concerts on the Square, hosted karaoke on Friday nights, and Langdon and Laurie Slate from Able Graphics Printing Corp. published a quarterly magazine for two years. “We were doing anything to get people to come downtown. It took two years, but merchants started expanding their hours, which improved the vitality of the downtown.”
Her involvement with the merchant association evolved into helping the Town plan events. She recalled assisting her predecessor, Leon Carter, with the first Daniel Boone Festival and Oktoberfest, now the Oaks Festival.
“We held the Daniel Boone Festival in August for the first two years to coincide with Daniel and Rebecca’s wedding date. Back then, we did a play and had reenactors. I suggested we move it to May because it’s just too gosh awful hot to do anything in August, especially on asphalt.”
“I love the Daniel Boone Festival because of the history behind it, and I know so many of those vendors. Many of them won’t be here in a few years, and you will no longer be able to find these handmade items. These are not products that come from China.”
“We started Oktoberfest with the help of Arthur and Dagmar Beich, who owned a German restaurant downtown. It eventually became too expensive because the food came down from New York, so we started the Four Oaks Festival.”
When Carter retired, it was natural for Langdon to assume the role of community development coordinator, where she has been a “jack of all trades.” While her primary role has been planning capital or physical projects for the town and organizing and executing special events, she has been just as likely to tackle random tasks like picking up trash, pinching back flowers, or counting feral cats. She considers no job too big or too small if it benefits the Town.
It’s that attitude that has made her such an asset to the town. “Tami’s efforts in community development have truly been the lifeblood that pumps through our downtown,” said Town Manager Ken Gamble. “She has formed great partnerships over the years to improve the appearance of downtown, attract businesses, promote events, and bring a great sense of fun and community to the Town center.”
A Flourishing Spirit of Collaboration
During her tenure, she added the “Twas the Night Before” bed races, Summer Beach Days concert, Movies in the Park, Christmas Holiday events throughout the month of December, and Summer Fun projects with Julie Whittaker and Karen Martin of the Davie County Public Library. She was quick to acknowledge the collaborative efforts of many individuals who contributed to the success of these events.
“This position in its early phase was probably considered mostly special event-oriented, but it’s not anymore. Now it is all about communicating with the entire downtown, the businesses, the services, and how to support these folks and help them continue growing.”
She is pleased with the beautification projects that have been completed, like the banners, murals, new planters, and the first stage of the wayfaring signage, and says much more can be done as funds are allocated.
“We are really lucky. When other Main Street Communities come to look at our Town, they are surprised by the diversity of our businesses and the clean look of our streetscape. We are getting a lot of good feedback on our wayfaring signs.”
She is most proud of the sense of collaboration that has taken root with non-profits, community services, and other businesses. “The floodgates are open, and we’re sharing and communicating. We are all promoting the town together. It is running like a rainbow now.”
She said she will miss the Town’s staff and departments, the merchants who have helped shape the Town, and the friends she has made over the years. She will also miss those who criticized her over the years and showed her a different viewpoint. “They are very dear to me because they were critical in my thinking and decision-making.”
“I have no regrets. I love this town and this community. It’s been kind to me. It’s been quite a ride. It’s been bumpy along the way, but I’ve enjoyed the bumps. Without the bumps, you don’t learn, you don’t grow.”
Even though she is retiring, Langdon won’t be going away. You will still find her at the concerts, the festivals, and the activities downtown. However, this time, she will be seated, a glass of wine in her hand, ready to enjoy.