For nearly five decades, Spivey’s Corner has been home to the National Hollerin’ Contest. Liv Dubendorf and Brian Gersten are bringing the hollerin’ tradition alive through a documentary film about the annual festival and art.
A public screening of a documentary on the 2014 Hollerin’ Contest, as well as another made in 1978, will be shown tonight at 7 p.m. at the Spivey’s Corner Fire Department. Each film is about 15 minutes in length.
Dubendorf and Gersten, both graduate students at Wake Forest University, delved into the art of hollerin’ and its history in Sampson, following three former champions, including Iris Turner, who won the ladies’ championship in 1977; Robbie Goodman, who won the junior division in 1978; and Tony Peacock, the 2014 champion and winner of multiple other years.
The screening is free and open to the public. Hollerin officials encourage the public to come out to tonight’s events to learn more about the art of hollerin’, as well as the history behind the annual festival.
According to Dubendorf, the documentary began as a project for graduate school, but quickly turned into a passion.
For a class assignment, the pair began to research and study the ancient art of hollerin’ and the National Hollerin’ Contest held annually in Spivey’s Corner. Through their journey, the duo have compiled the documentary film that is scheduled to be shown tonight.
“The project started as a grad school project, but quickly morphed into something we wanted to pursue until we felt we’d told the full story,” Dubendorf said in an interview with The Sampson Independent.
Prior to the research for the film, Dubendorf said she and her project partner knew very little about the North Carolina culture, one that is very familiar to those in the Sampson County area. At first, the pair became intrigued with the contest, but were soon fascinated by the art of hollerin’ itself.
“There is such an art to what was once a very necessary form of communication,” Dubendorf shared. “And so much information is packed into each distinct call. There are calls for help around the farm, ones that warn of emergency (which sound very much like ambulances), ones that let your neighbor know you’re coming to visit, and some can simply be a call for dinner. One common misconception is that pig calling and hollerin’ are one and the same, and that is far from the truth. We were told time and again that they were different. And we came to very much respect the culture of hollerin’.”
Hollerin’ is a rich part of Sampson County culture and the annual Hollerin’ Contest (now the annual Hollerin’ Heritage Festival) celebrates those traditions every year. Dubendorf says this aspect of life quickly began to interest her and Gersten.
“We discovered that hollerin’ is a unique community,” Dubdendorf attested. “The participants opened their homes and their lives to us, and dealt with having a camera around frequently. Brian and I really want to help keep that community alive by sharing our film.”
In the film, Dubendorf and Gersten follow former champions who have won the contest in some capacity in the past.
“As we went on, we fell in love with the characters, place, and concept, and we started thinking about doing a modern ‘where are they now’ and how has the culture of hollerin’ changed over the last 36 years,” Dubendorf said. “More than anything, hollerin’ is a nod to history. Participants are taking the time and learning communication tools from what once was for a lifestyle that now so rarely exists. There is an art to it, yes, but it’s mostly keeping the tradition alive.”
To view a trailer of the film, visit: https://vimeo.com/124470256.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.