City officials are preparing for the 23rd annual Court Square Street Fair and 16th annual Court Square Barbecue Cook-off, to be held in downtown Clinton from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10.
“The Court Square Street Fair is an event provided by the city of Clinton and its downtown merchants for the enjoyment of not only the citizens of Clinton, but Sampson and surrounding counties,” said Mary Rose, senior planner for Clinton-Sampson Planning and Development, who spearheads the annual fair.
She said the street fair is a “can’t miss” event.
The local fair and barbecue contest stands side-by-side with the annual Christmas parade in attracting people to the city’s haven downtown, officials said. A municipality whose focal point used to be packed on Fridays and Saturdays in decades past now practically empties when the weekend rolls around, with more choosing to leave town for various excursions, some say. The street fair keeps them here, from when the first hog Friday evening in preparation for the Barbecue Cook-off Friday evening until the last antique car rolls out of the Lisbon Street parking lot.
“It’s one of the best days we have in Clinton all year long,” David King, president of the Sampson County History Museum, has said of the street fair. King is also the president of the Ol’ Lightnin’ Rods Antique Car Club, which hosts the popular car show at the fair every year. King said it is good to see the streets packed again when the event rolls around. “(Clinton) used to be full of people on Fridays and Saturdays. I think it’s one of the best things Clinton can have.”
The Court Square Barbecue Cook-off is sponsored by Smithfield, Cape Fear Farm Credit and Williamson Gas Co. All corporate teams will be donating proceeds from the sale of their barbecue to a non-profit or charity of their choice. In addition to a corporate team competition, the individual contest has been opened to competitors.
“The competition among our individual contestants has always been strong but good hearted,” said Rose, “and you can be sure there will be barbecue to tempt all taste buds during these two competitions.”
As always, the street fair will feature a variety of local entertainment, from vocalists to dancers. A broad spectrum of handmade crafts will be on sale, with booth spaces able to be rented at $25 per 10 ft. x 10 ft. space. The booths are provided to civic organizations and non-profits at no charge.
The children’s rides, Rose said, make the event true family fare. And that would be the icing on the cake, if not for the literal sweetness provided through the fifth edition of the Court Square Bake-Off.
Categories include, breads, cakes, pies/cobblers, and candy/brownies/cookies, with all proceeds from the sale of the items being donated to Relay for Life. The bake-off is coordinated with the assistance of the Sampson County North Carolina Cooperative Extension Center.
“We hope this will be a popular event for those of you who have a sweet tooth,” said Rose.
The most foot traffic is often found where the Court Square Street Fair winds its way toward the Clinton City Market and the Sampson County History Museum. The Ol’ Lightnin’ Rods Antique Car Club will host its car show at the City Market, while the History Museum will hold its Craft Demonstration Day, providing street fair-goers the opportunity to view exhibits reminding everyone of days gone by.
“The car show participants take great pride in exhibiting their prized antique autos,” noted Rose. King said owners of the vehicles come from hundreds of miles out, and states away, to show their treasured possessions.
Car show participants may register from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the City Market, where Oldies 1170 will be broadcasting live, courtesy of Bob Stroud and the Boogie Shoes Network.
The craft demonstration at the History Museum will extend the entire time of the fair, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and will include “corn grinding, hit-and-miss engines, handmade jewelry, bluegrass and gospel singing, antique tractors and Native American beadwork,” according to city officials. There has also been a storyteller on hand in past events to spin a yarn or two.
As part of the demonstration at the History Museum, visitors will also be able to view techniques used by craftsman, as well as have their children make old fashion crafts and play a variety of games. The offering is sponsored in part by the North Carolina Arts Council.
Prior to the street fair festivities, there will be a Breast Cancer Awareness Rally beginning on the Main Street side of the Sampson County courthouse at 9:30 am., sponsored by Sampson County BCCCP (Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program) Advisory Board, the county Health Department and the Sampson County United Way. This event will continue from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 900 College Street. (See related story)
For more information or to register a booth, BBQ Cook-off team or Bake-off team, contact Mary Rose at 910-299-4904.