Ahoskie celebrates its past

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, September 17, 2013

AHOSKIE – Despite its presence for 10 years, Ahoskie Heritage Day perhaps gain a new following of fans this past weekend.

With the weather feeling more like late October than mid-September, thousands enjoyed the cool sunshine on Saturday while a few even donned long-sleeves for the nighttime activities on Friday and Saturday.

“By far it was the largest crowd we’ve seen in our 10-year history,” said Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond. “From our start on Friday evening until we closed at 11 p.m. on Saturday, all I saw were plenty of smiling faces, all enjoying the great weather and an equally great festival.”

The crowd was especially large on both nights, attracted by a pair of popular musical groups – The Band of Oz (Friday) and Steve Owens and Summertime (Saturday). As a part of the history of the Ahoskie Amphitheater (the site of Heritage Day), the Band of Oz was the first musical act to perform there in 2008.

“Both bands were fantastic; both interacted with the crowd, making for a fun time by all,” Hammond noted.

Prior to Owens and Summertime, three other musical acts – Tim Wall (a solo artist who hand-makes his own guitars), Chick Weed and the Moonshine Band – performed Saturday afternoon at the opposite end of the amphitheater grounds under a huge new picnic shelter built by the town. Those bands were greeted by a large crowd who were part of the “Two Wheel Thunder” (a motorcycle show) portion of the event.

“For our first time, I thought the bike show was a success,” said Zane Roberts who orchestrated the event. “We had bikers from all over our part of the state and southside Virginia. We even had one biker to come to Ahoskie from Alaska.”

Those bikers, 100 strong, first took part in Saturday morning’s parade. They then toured the local countryside, riding a 40-mile route before returning to the festival grounds for a bike show and music.

Proceeds raised from “Two Wheel Thunder” benefitted the Police Benevolent fund.

Meanwhile, the crowd gathered nearer the main stage enjoyed more food and craft vendors than in the past history of Heritage Day.

“We had the largest variety of food and craft vendors than ever before; that fact had a lot to do with the popularity of this year’s festival,” Hammond said. “We also tinkered with the location of the children’s games, which turned out to be a good move. By the time you add in the popularity of the bands, the barbecue cook-off and the motorcycle event, we had a huge hit on our hands.”

Hammond praised the efforts of the Ahoskie Police Department, Fire Department, Parks & Recreation Department, and Public Works Department for keeping things running smoothly.

“We experienced no issues with those attending Heritage Day or with the parking,” Hammond said. “I attribute that to our town employees….they’re second to none in my humble opinion.”

As part of Heritage Day, the sixth annual Backyard BBQ Cook-off attracted 12 “swine chefs.” Top honors went to Mike Pittard (T&T Barbecue) of Roanoke Rapids. The Pocosin Boys of Bertie County placed second followed closely by Jacque Turner in third.

After all that pork was grilled, it was chopped and seasoned for a barbecue lunch where proceeds benefitted the Ahoskie Public Library Building Fund.

Hammond said planning is already underway for Heritage Day 2014 – to be held, as tradition, on the second weekend of September…..hopefully under clear and cool skies.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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