Blue skies, plenty of sunshine, and refreshing cool weather set the scene Saturday in Spivey’s Corner for the first annual Hollerin’ Heritage Festival and the 45th annual National Hollerin’ Contest, the long-time fundraiser for the area’s fire department.
The festivities kicked off at 11 a.m. with many fun and informative activities of days-gone-by including a quilting exhibit, demonstrations in how to make homemade butter, sausage, and biscuits, tobacco-tying and corn-shelling demonstrations, and plowing demonstrations provided by the N.C. Workhorse and Mule Association.
Throughout the day, youngsters played on the inflatables in the festival’s Kid’s Zone while adults enjoyed the bluegrass gospel music provided by the Walters Family. Festival attendees also enjoyed clogging performances by the NC State Wolfpack Clogging Team and students from Lora’s Dance Unlimited.
Although the competitive hollerin’ didn’t start until late Saturday afternoon, some of the contest’s past champions were there much earlier, sharing their knowledge about the history of hollerin’ with interested attendees. Many of those in attendance, both young and old, also took the opportunity to exercise their lungs and practice the art of hollerin’ themselves with lessons from the past champions.
The National Hollerin’ Contest, which was started back in 1969, got under way just before 5 p.m.
Serving as judges for this year’s contest were Tri-State Turf owner Clark Wooten, as chief judge, Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton, Clinton City Councilman Neil Strickland, Director of Sampson County’s Travel and Visitors Bureau Vicki Crane, and the reigning Miss Spivey’s Corner Meredith Lindsay.
Seven youngsters participated in the Junior Holler Contest — Ella Drew of Raleigh, Emily Jackson of Roseboro, Erica Bryant of Autryville, Shoney Smith of Autryville, Cressinda Honeycutt of Autryville, Caden Mase of Raleigh, and Andrew Nealson of Fuquay-Varina.
Jackson took home this year’s junior champion honor and Honeycutt was named first runner-up.
Casey Clark of Clinton and Ivy Hinson of Fayetteville competed in the Teen Holler Contest with Hinson being named the winner.
“I’m really excited. This is my tenth year here and eighth win,” said Hinson afterwards. “I really enjoy it. These people are like family to me. When you come for this long you really get to know people. There’s just nothing else like it.”
Five women took to the stage to compete in the Ladies’ Callin’ contest — Cindy Lee of Dunn, Suzanne Tyner of Pikeville, Jan Carl of Pasadena, Calif., Chelsea Macawee of Carrboro, and Sheila Frye of Lillington.
Frye was named this year’s ladies’ champion while first-time hollerer Carl took first-runner up.
“I’m very excited to be here today,” shared Frye who has won the ladies’ call eight times now. “I think it’s great that it’s been held in September this year. We’ve had great weather today and large crowds. I’m just excited to help pass this legacy on.”
“I was also excited that there were many first time entries in the ladies’ division,” added Frye, mentioning that a few had taken lessons with past champions earlier in the day and ended up signing up for the competition.
Ending the day was the Men’s Hollerin’ contest, the premier event, which six men came out to participate in — Larry Jackson of Dunn, Dewain Colette of Broadway, Haywood Bachelor of Richlands, Tony Peacock of Siler City, Mike Sharp of Chapel Hill and Jim Grasti of Fayetteville.
Peacock, who competed with a new holler this year, took home the men’s Hollerin’ Champion trophy for the second year in a row. Jackson came in as first rummer-up and Grasti as second runner-up.
After the contest, Peacock shook hands and accepted the congratulations from friends and festival goers, telling many that part of the reason he tried a new call this year and ended up winning again is because he listened to his wife’s advice.
I’ve won it five times but I’ve never won it back to back,” said Peacock. “I was not really expecting it…it’s been a nice little run.”
“I’m just glad that everyone came out and that we’ve got people still doing this,” he continued. “You know, the idea of moving it (to September) and having the heritage festival with all the old-time demonstrations I think really fits well…As Southerners we’re always a little resistant to change but I think this has been really nice and very positive. I hope the fire department did well.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.