19Hope Mills Lake Celebration committeeThis year’s Hope Mills Lake Celebration was such a rousing success that town officials have decided to make it an annual event.

Plans have already started to make sure next year’s observance will improve on the first one. Mayor Jackie Warner said various town leaders decided about halfway through planning the first celebration of the lake’s return that it would be a good idea to make the lake celebration an annual event, separate from other town observances including Fourth of July and Ole Mill Days.
 
The big hit of the lake celebration was the inaugural cardboard boat race, which Warner expects will be the centerpiece of the lake festival every year.

“It was the novelty of it,’’ she said. “People hadn’t seen anything like that before. It was just fun watching. It was amazing when they saw what people could do with cardboard, when they got there and saw what had been created.’’

The boat race was so popular it has already secured a sponsor for 2019, Members Credit Union, which has an office on Trade Street in Hope Mills.

“They were really pleased with the results and want to help promote the event,’’ Warner said. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, which sponsored the trophies for the boat race winners, has agreed to return to sponsor them again next year.

There will be two major changes in next year’s lake celebration, one involving the dates and the other the length of the event.

The first lake celebration extended over five days and stretched into the town’s annual Fourth of July observance.

Next year, the celebration will start on Friday, May 18, and only last one weekend. It will include many of the same events as the first celebration, but some of them will be combined on the same day.

For example, beach music night and jazz night will be held at the same time, along with the street dance. The whole event was moved to the weekend of May 18 to take advantage of spring weather and to separate the lake celebration from Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July.
 
Dr. Kenjuana McCray, who is a sociology professor at Fayetteville Technical Community College, was involved in the planning both the jazz events and Church on the Lake at the first celebration. She has some ideas for expanding offerings at next year’s celebration. “I want to have an event called Hope and Art, bringing art to Hope Mills,’’ she said. “When I say art, I mean musicians, artists, people who do cooking demonstrations dealing with different cultures and foods.’’

As a sociology instructor, McCray said issues related to culture and diversity are near and dear to her. “I’m a member of the Fayetteville Arts Council and I feel this is an extension of the work I do with the Arts Council,’’ she said. “Even though we have some great festivals in Fayetteville, this will be unique to Hope Mills.’’

McCray felt the last lake celebration was a success and brought a lot of people to the community who normally don’t take part in those kinds of events.

She said the town is actively recruiting sponsors, vendors and talent to take part in next year’s celebration. They can either contact the town office at 910-424-4555 or call McCray at 910-494-1352.

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