It’s hard to mix change and tradition, but we believe those charged with organizing the nearly half-century old National Hollerin’ Contest have found just the right combination to bring the two together successfully.
And we hope Sampsonsians, along with visitors from across the state and beyond, will take advantage of the newly revamped contest being held this weekend and including a whole lot more than just hollerin’.
Though the National Hollerin’ Contest remains the flagship of the annual event, it is now being dubbed as the Hollerin’ Heritage Festival and will include everything from a living history exhibit and hollerin’ lessons from the champs themselves to a barbecue cookoff, an antique tractor show, bluegrass music, farm equipment displays and much more.
The event is being held from 11 a.m. until 6:30, with the Hollerin’ Contest capping off the day’s events. As it has been for the past few years, all events are being held at the Spivey’s Corner Volunteer Fire Dept., 8200 Newton Grove Hwy. and proceeds continue to benefit that organization.
Early this year, event organizers told members of the county’s Convention and Visitors Bureau that they were going to tinker just a bit with tradition, moving the contest from its annual third Saturday in June date to Sept. 14 and, at the same time, revamping it in an effort to restore the contest to the huge draw it once was.
Organizers have called it a big gamble, but we believe it is a risk worth taking, and one that will reap many benefits, both for the community and for the fire department.
In fact, it was the fire department’s need for money that sparked the establishment of the contest back in 1965, and it remains the biggest fundraising for the group.
Over time, the contest took on a life of its own and became quite a draw, bringing thousands from across the United States and even abroad to hear the age-old hollers that country folk often used to communicate with their neighbors.
While centered around the contest, there have been vendors, games and entertainment mixed into the day-long event, which culminates late in the afternoon with first the children’s contest, then the women’s and finally the men’s events.
But over time, the crowds have dwindled and with it the funds for the fire department, and that which was once a major draw has become somewhat cumbersome, taking away from the heritage and history of a remarkable part of Sampson’s past.
The tweaking organizers are doing will be the catalyst for what we believe will be a resurgence of interest in the event and a marketable draw that will bring people back to Sampson County, putting needed dollars in the fire department’s coffers.
But it will take interest from Sampson residents and others to ensure the gamble pays off.
Saturday’s event will be one for the entire family, mixing heritage with modern-day fun, entertainment at an extremely reasonable price and not that far from home.
We congratulate Hollerin’ Contest organizers for taking the bold steps needed to make changes to the contest, including a new name — The Hollerin’ Heritage Festival — and we encourage people to mark the date on their calendar, making preparations to support Sampson County history and Sampson County people. No one offers that support any better than local residents, so talk it up and encourage others to join you in Spivey’s Corner Sept. 14 for a hollerin’ good time.