Years of discussion about whether to add live music to the annual Court Square Street Fair and Barbecue Cook-Off has led to an easy decision, with the success of the Alive After Five summer concert series and a renewed effort to make October’s event bigger and better.
Live music is on tap for Friday, Oct. 12, a lead-in to the next day’s festivities and a way to extend and build anticipation for a hallmark event that regularly attracts thousands from Sampson and surrounding counties.
So, as Clinton police officers close the downtown late Friday afternoon for the 26th annual Court Square Street Fair and 19th Barbecue Cook-Off, the amount of people on the inside of the orange cones looks to grow significantly as people converge on the court square for the first-ever offering of live music as part of the event.
Traditionally, the hog cookers would be one of the only noises heard in the downtown before Saturday morning, but that will no longer be the case with the event officially spanning two days. While the bulk of the street fair festivities will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, live music will ring in the downtown event and get barbecue cookers on their way.
“For several years we have talked about doing some type of entertainment downtown on the Friday night prior to the Street Fair due to the fact the barbecue contestants set up Friday evening and begin cooking the pigs that night as well,” said Clinton-Sampson planning director Mary Rose.
All pigs are required to be cooked on-site and barbecue contestants are allowed to begin cooking any time after 9 p.m. that Friday in the designated cooking areas for the contest downtown. The music will lead up to that time, with performances slated to run from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct 12, on the Main Street side of the Sampson County Courthouse.
While the majority of planning for the event has traditionally been done by city planning staff, a steering committee was formed to assist this year. Mason Tarr, owner of Ashford Inn, was the steering committee member in charge of scheduling the live music.
“In an effort to augment the excitement of Saturday’s festivities, this year we will be amending the cooking portion of the weekend Friday evening, when the contestants start cooking their pigs by adding live music Friday evening,” said Tarr.
From 6 to 7:30 p.m., there will be a gospel performance by Michael Boykin and the Mighty Voices, a group that calls Clinton home. From 7:30 to 9 p.m., there will be bluegrass music provided by Charles & Miranda and the Bones Fork Creek Boys, who are from Clement.
The Bones Fork Creek Boys will be featured with Charles and Miranda Fleming and will be called Charles & Miranda and the Bones Fork Creek Boys. The Bones Creek Boys are a self-professed “hard-hitting, fast-playing bluegrass band that could also sing you to sleep with soft high lonesome blues.” Michael Boykin and the Mighty Voices are an award-winning Gospel favorite well known to many locally.
The Clinton Main Street Program is coordinating the street fair event in partnership with Sampson Regional Medical Center, the Sampson Arts Council, Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP), the Sampson County History Museum, the Downtown Dash 5k Committee, the Ol’ Lightnin’ Rods Car Club and the city of Clinton.
Along with the good old standbys like barbecue, baked goods, antique cars and handmade arts and crafts, new additions will be a 5K Downtown Dash, a Volksmarch and Friday’s live music.
Rose said she hoped for the same positive response for Friday’s live music as has been enjoyed for the first two Alive After Five series.
“We hope the same community who seemed to enjoy Alive After Five will come out and bring their lawn chairs to support some local groups on this evening,” said Rose. “With 20 pigs being barbecued, there will already be some excitement building and we hope the live music will simply provide citizens as extra opportunity to relax and enjoy a nice evening downtown.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.