Heritage Day a hit for Ahoskie

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 13, 2004

AHOSKIE – On Saturday, Ahoskie traded in its usual routine slow-pace for a high energy lifestyle as the first-ever Heritage Day celebration kicked off.

Drawing in everyone from local townspeople to traveling artists who made the trek here to share their creations with those who have an eye for the aesthetically pleasing, Heritage Day was a great success.

Downtown merchants took to the sidewalks of Main Street, which was closed to make way for an open air market allowing pedestrians and curious shoppers an opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of the early fall while taking in the myriad of activities and entertainment provided throughout the day.

Starting with a pancake and sausage breakfast conducted by the Rotary Club and a 5K run sponsored by ViQuest, the event boasted health fair exhibits (Roanoke-Chowan Hospital), a town surplus sale, Chicken Pastry Lunch and Safe Kids Buckle Up and Car Seat Safety (Kiwanis Club), a pie eating contest and fine art show (United Methodist Church), children’s pumpkin decorating (Ahoskie First Baptist Church), Barks and Bubbles Pet Contest, bicycle rodeo (Health Department), Family Fun Festival (Ahoskie Christian Center), mums and pumpkin sales (Carpenter’s Shop Church), Strickland’s Tractors & Trailers, a historical display and historic tours, Indian Summer craft show and sale (Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce) with another historic display done by St. Thomas Episcopal Church, a yard and bake sale (St. Charles Catholic Church), slow pitch tournament (Dennis Everette Ball Field), smoke house display (Ahoskie Fire Department), church tours (Ahoskie Presbyterian Church), an inflatable children’s play land and miniature remote control car exhibit and racing (International Electric Drag Racing Association).

Antique farm equipment was also placed on display, along with displays by the Meherrin Tribe and Harrelsville Fire Department. The event included vocal performances at the Gallery Theatre by Kristi Swain who sang a repertoire of Broadway songs by Helen Marget, Jennifer Joyner and Ralph Hewitt singing &uot;Couple of Swells&uot;, Two by Day Two by Night (Barber Shop Quartet), &uot;Together, Wherever We Go,&uot; sung by Haley Rivera and Karen Knowles and a feature from the cast from &uot;Once On This Island,&uot; from the 2004 Youth Summer Workshop.

Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn stated that she was &uot;absolutely ecstatic&uot; about the outcome of the event. &uot;I was out there from 6:45 in the morning when the fog was so thick you could hardly see anything and all of a sudden, it seemed, everything just evolved.&uot;

In the downtown area, a car show, face painting, dunking booth (Church at the Crossroads), fashion show (Shirley’s Bridal & Fay’s Floral Design), and musical entertainment by Nekkid Fish and Spare Change and along with &uot;Soldiers Against Darkness,&uot; and those performing in the amateur competition &uot;Battle of the Bands&uot; could be enjoyed.

Former Hertford County Commissioner Marshall Askew, who hosted the &uot;Battle of the Bands&uot; competition, announced &uot;Back Draft&uot; as the first place winner, taking home $500 in cash and a four-hour recording session in a studio in Hamilton sponsored by Music Box Studios and Grande Illusions, while second place was awarded to the &uot;Homesteaders&uot; and third to a band by the name of &uot;Falling Forward.&uot;

&uot;Everything went very well,&uot; said Blackburn who commented that the event was pulled off on a shoestring budget.

&uot;Everyone pitched in to make this happen from Barbara Perry’s super job in coordinating the art show to Stan Dixon’s (Stitch Count) instrumental support in making the T-shirts to literally the cooperation of everyone who dedicated their time, energy and talent to make it all come together.&uot;

According to Blackburn, although the town sanctioned the event, no money was allocated from the budget to pay for it. &uot;No town money was involved in it at all,&uot; she said. &uot;The downtown merchants did their own fund raising with help from those who offered to sponsor this celebration.&uot;

Ahoskie Fire Department creamed the Ahoskie Police Department in the pie-eating contest during the final round, while Reanna Huckabee of Aulander was pronounced Little Miss Heritage Day alongside Trace Robertson of Ahoskie who took the title of Little Mr. Heritage Day.

The event ended with a bang, concluding with a spectacular fireworks display sponsored by the Downtown Merchant’s Association. The group performed marvelous pyrotechniques as they launched a 25-minute series of ground thumping booms and bursts of color into the sky from the field at the old Ahoskie High School.

&uot;This whole experience was awesome,&uot; said Blackburn. &uot;Sometimes, you hear of people going to a town where they say they can just feel the energy there and this past Saturday, I could feel that energy right here in Ahoskie and it was simply wonderful.&uot;