Heritage Day faces cutbacks

Published 11:19 am Tuesday, September 5, 2017

AHOSKIE – Citing budgetary concerns that made local headlines in July, town officials here are cutting back on the annual Heritage Day Festival in an effort to save money.

Town Manager Kerry McDuffie said the 14th annual celebration of the town’s heritage will be a one-day event for 2017 instead of its traditional two-day run.

By limiting the festival to a single day – Saturday, Sept. 23 – the town will save $15,000. The biggest savings came through canceling Friday night’s scheduled live band and Saturday evening’s fireworks show.

McDuffie said the 2017 event was originally scheduled to operate on a $28,000 budget. Those operating expenses are now trimmed to $13,000.

“We need to get our finances in order and we’re slowly heading in that direction,” McDuffie said. “We had some tough choices to make, obviously for financial reasons, and Heritage Day was among those choices.

“We know that Heritage Day is important to the town of Ahoskie. We plan to continue this annual event, perhaps looking at expanding it in the years to come,” McDuffie added. “We appreciate our town citizens and the general public in understanding the financial situation we’re in at the present time.”

The situation he referenced is a reported $475,000 budget deficit. McDuffie has already cut the town’s Recreation Department budget to zero for 2017-18, including laying off its full-time staff, as well as firing the town’s Public Works Director.

As for the Sept. 23 schedule for Ahoskie Heritage Day, the event will begin at 8 a.m. with a 5K Run sponsored by Vidant Wellness Center followed by the annual parade (10 a.m.) start. The parade route will be from the Southern Bank area on Main Street to the Ahoskie Creek Recreational Complex, from where all other Heritage Day events will take place.

Local DJ Jay Jenkins will provide music throughout the day. There will be a Gospel Music Explosion on the Ahoskie Amphitheater stage from 12 noon until 1 p.m.

Other events include Disc Golf (1-1:30 p.m.); a 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament (1-4 p.m.); Indian Pow Wow (1:30-2 p.m.); Sheep Tag (2-3 p.m.); a K-9 display (3:30-4 p.m.); PAWS Pet Walk (4-5 p.m.) and the night’s featured band – Steve Owens and Summertime from 7-11 p.m.

There will also be exhibits, crafts, and a variety of food vendors throughout the day.

Admission and parking are free.


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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