Street fair returns to Clinton

By: Staff reports

After last year’s cancellation of the annual Court Square Street Fair and Barbecue Cook-off due to Hurricane Matthew, the “bigger and better” event is back this weekend to celebrate its 30th edition.

The event will be spread over two days, with the return of an evening concert Friday (tonight) and a brand new event kicking off a full slate Saturday.

The band Spare Change will kick off the festivities from 6-9 p.m. Friday on the Vance Street side of the Sampson County Courthouse. The group will be playing from the grand porch as teams competing in the 23rd annual Barbecue Cook-Off set up for the evening. Southern Smoke BBQ will be downtown for the concert, with Alfredo’s and Hwy 55 open for dinner as well, event organizers said.

Following Friday night’s action, activity on the court square will start early, with barbecue judging at 8 a.m.

A fitness-filled morning will ensue with the first year of the Rockin’ Run for the Arts, sponsored by the Sampson Arts Council, starting at 8:30 a.m. from the Vance Street parking lot. It is taking over after years of success enjoyed by the Downtown Dash event.

The annual Breast Cancer Awareness Rally, sponsored by the Sampson County Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP), will begin at the Main Street stage in front of the Milling Around art piece at 9:30 a.m. The walk will end at the Sampson Center, located at 808 Barden St., where the rally will continue until noon.

The Court Square Street Fair’s primary Saturday slate will extend from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown Clinton.

“It is an event provided by the Clinton Main Street Program and its partners for the enjoyment of not only the citizens of Clinton, but also of Sampson and surrounding counties,” said event organizer Mary Rose, who serves as manager of the Main Street program. “Thanks to the strengthening of several existing partnerships, the event will be even bigger and better this year.”

The Main Street program is partnering with the Sampson Arts Council, the Sampson County BCCCP, the Sampson County History Museum, Sampson County Cooperative Extension, the Ol’ Lightnin’ Rods Car Club and the City of Clinton. The Barbecue Cook-Off has 19 competitors this year. Serving as gold sponsors are Prestage Farms, Hog Slat, Smithfield Clinton Plant and Smithfield Hog Production Division. The silver sponsor is Williamson Gas Co.

Rose said last week that more than 100 vendors had signed up to be a part of the fair.

The street fair itself will feature free children’s rides as well as a variety of local entertainment, handmade crafts and other nonprofit and business exhibitors. The main stage will be located on Main Street and is sponsored this year by WCLN-FM 107.3.

The Sampson County Cooperative Extension is participating with an exhibit area downtown as well as at the Sampson County History Museum, where street fair-goers can find out about youth leadership opportunities, healthy eating, food safety, gardening tips, agricultural appreciation and the economic impact of farming on Sampson County.

Along with its sponsorship of the Rockin’ Run, the Arts Council will also be hosting its regular arts activities at the Milling Around art piece off College Street, which will feature a bevy of children’s activities as well as plastic lid murals that artist Denise Hughes has been working on with local elementary school students as part of a residency in city and county schools this week.

The street fair will then make its way up Lisbon Street to the Clinton City Market, where the Ol’ Lightnin’ Rods Car Show will be held. Participants may register their cars until 12 p.m. Saturday at the City Market. As is tradition, Oldies 1170 will be there, broadcasting live with Bob Stroud and the Boogie Shoes Network.

Just past the City Market, the Sampson County History Museum Craft Demonstration Day will provide visitors with a variety of free demonstrations and exhibits from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Randy Sessoms, left, and Rick Rockhill of Mill Creek Baptist Church make funnel cakes during the street fair in 2015. Sessoms, left, and Rick Rockhill of Mill Creek Baptist Church make funnel cakes during the street fair in 2015.

Staff reports

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.