The Fourth Annual North Carolina Fall Festival takes place Thursday, Oct. 17, through Saturday,  Oct. 19, on Main Street in downtown Raeford.

 “This is the fourth year of the Fall Festival, but it is the 35th year of our festival in Hoke County,” said Melissa Pittman, executive director of the North Carolina Fall Festival. “The name was changed five years ago from the North Carolina Turkey Festival to the North Carolina Fall Festival.”

 Pittman added the name was changed because at the time the festival was organized the largest employer and commodity of Hoke County was turkeys. “We changed the name to make it more inclusive of all of the businesses in Raeford,” she said.

 The celebration kicked off Saturday, Oct. 5 with the Second Annual Golf Tournament. Card Tournament Tuesday will be Oct. 15. Senior Day is Wednesday, Oct. 16, with bingo, lunch, health screenings and a guest speaker.

 The parade takes place Thursday, Oct. 17, at 5:30 p.m. “We do the parade every year, and that allows students to show off their band, their cheerleaders, their sports team. Each of our schools and several businesses in town will get a float,” said Pittman. “It’s a huge event that only happens once a year in Hoke County.”

 A “Stuffin’ and Stompin” dinner takes place from 5-7 p.m. at West Hoke Middle School Friday, Oct. 18. The cost is $8. The Turkey Bowl follows at 7 p.m. at Hoke High School in Raz Autry Stadium.

 The last day of the festival is Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Live music will be provided by The Dowdy Boys, Dv8er, Donnie Henderson and Winslow Ratliff. The featured band is Soul DeCree, who will perform at noon.  “Our festival sets out each year to bring artists, different cultural events and craftsmen to (the) community,” said Pittman. “Many of our children have seen storytellers that they would have never seen if it had not been for the festival.”

 There will be a Children’s Corner at the festival that features a climbing wall, double slides, obstacle courses, a trackless train ride and games. “They get to come and participate in our Children’s Corner, which is entirely free this year with our county and city governments paying for that area so our local children and any child that comes will not have to pay,” said Pittman. “We will have craftsmen that do their work on the street, cultural dancers and a dance troupe that will perform, the Lumbee Tribe who will perform, step teams and bands.” There will also be a food court and a wine and beer court.

 Also, there will be an art contest between all of the students in Hoke County.  Cash prizes will be awarded, and their art will be displayed from Oct. 18 – Nov. 11. The school that wins the overall display receives a donation from the festival to go toward  the school’s art program.

 The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 910-904-2424 or visit www.NCFallFestival.com.

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