Caswell Prepares for Their Own in September
By Amanda Hodges, Director Caswell County Chamber of Commerce
One of the things that bonds rural communities together is their festivals, with arts, crafts, agriculture and home cooked food. Through time, festivals have been a way to celebrate heritage, traditions and the culture of people and regions. The events can add structure to our social lives and help connect people with their families, neighbors, and communities. Seasonal festivals often reflect the attitude of a rural community, connecting it with the land, whether it is a livelihood or a backyard vegetable garden. These events are also meaningful as they link us to our ancestors and a slower, simpler and often less stressful time gone by.
The National Governors Association recently shared details via a study guide noting that some $67.5 billion to our national gross domestic product came from states in which 30 percent or more of the populations lived in rural areas less than three years ago. Arts and culture production in rural states employed nearly 628,500 workers that year. Although these numbers may not be directly applicable to this region specifically, the uneven recovery from the great recession in rural America has spurred national attention about the future of rural areas. Automation, globalization, the opioid epidemic and inequities in educational systems and infrastructure have left rural areas in shambles where the urban and suburban areas have thrived. The report noted that the arts (and all that is connected with them) are not the end all answer to the rural area’s problems, but it did cite their importance in building a sense of pride. For more details, see nga.org.
Caswell County Developments to Celebrate at the Festival
Caswell County is proud to be celebrating traditions as well as new developments at the 38th Annual Hoedown. Contributing to the excitement is a project by Piedmont Community College’s Caswell Campus to build an ag-business facility in Pelham. This will house classrooms and contain incubator farm plots where students will have firsthand experience working in agriculture. Also, in downtown Yanceyville, a new shared work space will be open by the end of the year. Under consultation with shared work space operator, HQ Raleigh, this will position Caswell as a committed partner in supporting a new generation of small businesses. The operation will provide local entrepreneurs and creators a place to work and collaborate, with high speed internet services as well as meeting space. The anchor tenant, Mesur.io, is an ag based technology company that worked closely with the Caswell economic developer in choosing to invest their future in Caswell County.
Other exciting investments in the future include embarkment of a new high school and the major renovation of the Gunn Memorial Library, the seasonal weekly Farmer’s Market, organized by the Caswell Local Foods Council, where it has been difficult to find a parking space in recent weeks. With a commitment to the ag based economy, the county government in cooperation with NCSU Extension have added another livestock agent position and a new County Extension Director begins in August.
38th Annual Bright Leaf Hoedown – September 21
Exciting progress in the county is breathing new life into the Festival as many community members are involved in the planning, getting the “low down” on the hoedown! As the county slogan reads, we do want to “Preserve the Past” by paying homage to the traditional tobacco growing, curing and marketing, but we also plan to “Embrace the Future” as the community begins to welcome new agricultural endeavors. It is a spotlight on both the traditional “big” agriculture row crops and the smaller sustainable family farms that are contributing to the local food movement. As the farm to table fans clamor for the produce and livestock our farmers produce, we are sure to see positive results.
With the event planned to be on ‘The Square’ as it once was years in the past, there will be agriculture exhibits, crafters and artisans. The classic car show will be very close by and two stages of performing entertainers (including Cat5, Cuize Control, Megan Doss & Matt Crowder, Rock Steady and Jus’ Cause) will be there as well.
The ag exhibits will include a free-range chicken demo, forestry as a crop exhibit, beekeeping, farming rabbits and flowers and more. A ‘combine simulator’ will be there for all ages and information on hemp is included due to the significant interest in Caswell County. And, of course, tobacco will be represented as many acres are still being grown here. Caswell County Cooperative Extension will be present and visitors will have the opportunity to meet the new Country Extension Director.
The Ag exhibits will include a free-range chicken demonstration, forestry as a crop exhibit, beekeeping, farming rabbits and flowers and more. A ‘combine simulator’ will be there for all ages and information on hemp is included due to the significant interest in Caswell County. And, of course, tobacco will be represented as many acres are still being grown here. Caswell County Cooperative Extension will be present and visitors will have the opportunity to meet the new Country Extension Director.
The “Kids Kountry” area will host the popular Farm Olympics and the Bartlett Yancey FFA has agreed to assist with a petting zoo. In addition, the forestry team will provide an interactive activity for the youngsters to learn about fire prevention. Demonstrations of 4-H agriculture-based activities will be provided to help connect the youngsters with how their food gets to their plates. An obstacle course provided by the National Guard and a Corn Hole Tournament with a 1st place prize of $500 will be available for all ages.
Lots of tasty local food will be available at the event with our culinary experts from area churches, Ruritans, and fire departments preparing the feasts. A select few Caswell entrepreneurs that operate food trucks will be present too.
The festival is a free event to the general public and is organized by the Caswell County Chamber of Commerce, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit governed by a local board of directors. Visit CaswellChamber.org and click on ‘Events’ for updated details and updated band schedule. Caswell County looks forward to seeing you on Saturday, September 21 at 9am for the National Anthem & Opening Ceremonies and invites you to spend the day with us in Yanceyville, NC as we celebrate agriculture and our community! (336) 694-6106 | CaswellChamber.org