Just a couple short weeks from now, downtown Clinton and the surrounding area with be bustling with activity as thousands will once again converge on the Court Square Street Fair and Barbecue Cook-Off, which annually acts to kick off autumn in style.
Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose said plans are well under way for the 27th annual Court Square Street Fair and 20th annual Barbecue Cook-Off, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 12.
“Thanks to several new partnerships and the strengthening of several existing partnerships, the event will be even bigger than ever before,” Rose said this week. “There are few times better than a beautiful North Carolina fall day to enjoy time outside, and if (people) are looking for things to do, downtown Clinton has lots of fun lined up for everyone.”
The Clinton Main Street Program puts on the event in partnership with many others, including the Sampson Regional Medical Center, the Sampson Arts Council, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP), the Sampson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Sampson County History Museum, the Downtown Dash 5K Committee, the Ol’ Lightnin’ Rods Car Club, Celebrando la Raza – Festival de la Calle and the City of Clinton.
“In addition to these partners we are also very appreciative of our sponsors for the Barbecue Cook-off this year,” said Rose, who noted the cook-off teams will begin setting up the Friday night before the event, Oct. 11, with the pigs delivered at 9 p.m. “Our gold sponsors are Murphy-Brown, Prestage Farms and Smithfield and our silver sponsors are Hog Slat and Williamson Gas. With nearly two dozen teams, there should be plenty of barbecue to go around.”
The barbecue cooking will go through the night and into the morning of Oct. 12, when a full slate of events will commence.
Activities on the court square start early, with the Court Square Bake-Off registration on Main Street from 8-9 a.m. The bake-off will include competitions in the breads, cakes, pies/cobblers, and candy/brownies/cookies categories and has regularly received great participation and feedback, organizers said.
“After (fair-goers) have enjoyed the day’s events and some delicious barbecue,” Rose said, “(they should) be sure to treat themselves to all the wonderful desserts from the Court Square Bake-Off.”
Another event that was very well received in its inaugural year last year, the 2nd annual Downtown Dash 5K & Fun Run starts at 8:30 a.m. from the newer Vance Street parking lot. This year, the Sampson Regional Medical Center Care Fair, the third annual, has moved from the Center for Health and Wellness on Beaman Street to the Clinton City Hall on Lisbon in order to be closer to the heart of the street fair. It will be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Just before the Care Fair starts, the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Rally will begin on the Main Street side of the Sampson County Courthouse at 9:30 am. The walk will end at the Sampson Center, at 808 Barden St., where the rally will continue until 12 p.m.
“As always, the street fair will feature free children’s rides as well as a variety of local entertainment and handmade crafts,” said Rose. “The Court Square Street Fair is an event provided … for the enjoyment of not only the citizens of Clinton, but also of Sampson and surrounding counties. More than just festivities, the collaboration through a single event is about establishing relationships between people and groups in the community.”
Also The Sampson Arts Council is expanding the arts section this year with a variety of arts activities in the park and parking lot by the “Milling Around” art piece.
The Street Fair will wind its way up Lisbon Street to the Clinton City Market, where the Ol’ Lightnin’ Rods Antique Car Show will be held. The number of participants in the show grows each year and those who wish to register their cars can do so until 12 p.m. Oct. 12 at the City Market. Oldies 1170 will be on hand 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 fair-goers with a variety of free demonstrations and exhibits from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
In previous years, vendors at the History Museum have offered baked goods, homemade ice cream, handmade jewelry, photography, wood burning, candle making and traditional bead work, with displays including a Confederate re-enactment complete with the firing of muskets and flag presentation. Exhibits include crochet, knitting and weaving; Victorian lace tatting; corn shelling and grinding; basket weaving; live goat-milking; and lye soap making.
Horse-drawn carriage rides and llama rides have also proven popular in recent years.
Similar to the Care Fair, another event is growing and moving as part of the fair.
“An exciting addition to our Street Fair for the second year in a row is the Celebrando la Raza-Festival de la Calle,” Rose noted. An Hispanic cultural event, it was held its first year at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and will be held this year in the parking lot across from First Baptist Church at 408 College St. College Street will be closed from Devane Street to Sampson Street in order to provide for the expansion of the event.
From the barbecue to the baked goods, the crafts to the carriage rides and the hot rods to the History exhibits, Rose said there is something for everyone — and it is hoped by organizers of the events the street fair will prove yet another success in its 27th year.
“Strong partnerships are being built with this event, from sponsors, participating organizations and the Steering Committee to the citizens of Clinton, Sampson and surrounding areas whose attendance and enjoyment make all the planning efforts so worthwhile,” said Rose. “The Court Square Street Fair 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.”
For more information on the event, contact Mary Rose or Betty Holland at 910-299-4904.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.