A century in the making

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eloise Taylor Ward served as the Grand Marshall of the Conway Centennial Parade. Mrs. Ward is the daughter of the incorporated town’s first mayor, J.E. Taylor. Staff Photo by Amanda VanDerBroek

Eloise Taylor Ward served as the Grand Marshall of the Conway Centennial Parade. Mrs. Ward is the daughter of the incorporated town’s first mayor, J.E. Taylor. Staff Photo by Amanda VanDerBroek

CONWAY – There’s a lot to be said about a small town, but so much more can be said about community pride.

On Saturday, what makes a small town a community was on display for all in Conway.

In recognition of their 100th birthday, the town made history of its own with a day long Centennial Celebration, which attracted over 1,000 people.

On Feb. 27, 1913, the town was officially incorporated as a municipality by the North Carolina General Assembly. With its roots reaching back as far as the 1700s, the town was once known as Martin’s Crossroads then Kirby Township before it officially became Conway.

Saturday’s event celebrated that deep-rooted history as well as a sense of community with music, food, family fun and fireworks. The planning of the event, done by the Conway Centennial Celebration Committee, has been a year in the making and those who attended reaped the reward.

“All the hard work and preparation paid off,” said Conway Mayor Brian Bolton. “I don’t think our celebration could have been any better. Our citizens and business owners have shown that small towns are still proud of who they are where they came from.”

The celebration began early Saturday morning with a 5K run in town. The race had 73 participants and Pete Gibson was the overall winner.

Following the race, citizens and visitors lined Main Street for The “All Aboard” Parade which featured a timeline of different decades and several ornate floats decorated by businesses, churches, organizations and community members.

“The “All Aboard” Parade, according to the spectators was one of the best parades ever for our area,” said Bolton.

The winning floats were: First place, Conway Baptist Church; Second place, Lori Burgess, Conway Theater; and Third Place, Nell’s Florist.

“I know the judges struggled to choose because every float was very well done,” said Bolton. “The marching bands were also judged and Hertford County High School was first place and Northampton County High School was second.”

Held on the grounds of Conway Middle  School, activities for children and families ranged from rock wall climbing to a barrel train to small-scale replica steam engine. In the school, the town’s history was on display and Shirley Gay, a Conway resident, offered stories of the past.

Jacob Parks and Madison Dilley claimed the Little Mr. & Ms. Conductor titles.

Bolton said he’s heard nothing but praise about the quality of the food prepared by local churches and civic groups. He said the craft vendors seemed to have also done well.

“The Town of Conway had a tent with souvenirs, t-shirts, ornaments, history books, train whistles and much more. Everything sold very well,” Bolton said. “If someone would still like to make a purchase of one the items just go to the town hall.”

Jay Jenkins from Shaggin’ on the Beach was the MC for the event which featured musical acts, Steve Owens and Summertime, The Sand Band and Northampton’s own Eyes of Emiline who sang songs from their new album “Perfect”.

“The Eyes of Emiline are superstars in the making and I can’t think of a better group than Jessica, Emily and Amanda to represent Northampton County and even North Carolina at a national level,” said Bolton. “I can’t wait for them to get their big break.”

Throughout the day contestants for The Conway’s Got Talent competition battled it out in semi-finals. The contest was narrowed down to three in the evening: Holly Moore, Mesha Bullock and Vernon Futrell. Bullock was announced the winner, earning $1,000.

“The Centennial Fireworks concluded our event with class,” said Bolton. “I really don’t think the day could have been scripted any better than it turned out.”

He thanked those who worked to make the celebration happen as well as everyone who took time to come to Conway and help celebrate the historic event.