Melissa Pittman remembers one moment of last year’s North Carolina Fall Festival vividly.
On the phone with her mom late at night after a long day working at the festival, she watched an emotional Facebook video that centered on a young boy in his wheelchair clapping with the utmost excitement as floats went by during the festival’s popular parade.
“This is why we do this,” Pittman expressed in that moment.
Returning this year Sept. 11-15, the North Carolina Fall Festival will be packed with a variety of activities and events. The festivities encourage residents of Raeford and out-of-town guests to usher in the fall season Hoke County style.
With a bingo tournament for seniors to participate in on Senior Day, a trackless train ride that families can hop on for free all day Saturday, and a gospel concert featuring Winslow Ratliff Jr. scheduled for closing night, there is a little something for everyone to enjoy, no matter what age.
One newer event gives local artists the opportunity to showcase their work throughout the duration of the weeklong festival at the Parker House, which is located on Hoke County’s Museum grounds.
Of the activities and events that take place throughout the week every year, Pittman said the parade on Raeford’s Main Street is the most loved by the community’s families and festival-goers.
“We have all of our schools participate. All of the businesses in Raeford participate, and the streets are lined on both sides before the parade actually starts,” she said.
This year’s parade is scheduled to take place in downtown Raeford Thursday, Sept. 13, at 5:30 p.m. Like the annual parade, returning festival-goers will have some other favorite events to look forward to, including the Card Tournament, the Stuffin’ and Stompin’ Dinner and the Turkey Bowl.
Pittman’s desire is that every person who attends or participates in some part of the festival will walk away knowing how loving, welcoming and wonderful Raeford is and what Hoke County as a whole has to offer. Besides the fall season, communal support is the theme Pittman hopes attendees will experience firsthand throughout the week of the festival.
From the banners and street signs to the food to the vendors’ products, most everything seen at the festival is created locally, right in Hoke County.
“If it can be done in Hoke County – in Raeford – that’s where we do it, and that’s another way we support our community,” Pittman said.
Ultimately, without Raeford’s community – its volunteers, its sponsors and the citizens who come back and support the event each year – the North Carolina Fall Festival would not be able to go on, Pittman said.
“There would be no festival. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a community to host a festival,” she added.
To learn more about this year’s North Carolina Fall Festival, call 910-904-2424 or visit www.facebook.com/ncfallfestival.