Move over turkey and make room for poultry. For 30 years, Hoke County has held the Annual North Carolina Turkey Festival, drawing thousands of people to partake in the festivities. This year, they have stirred things up, but don’t worry, it’s the same fun event but with a new name this year. The 1st Annual North Carolina Poultry Festival begins on Friday, Sept. 11 and runs through Saturday, Sept 19. 

   “The Poultry Festival is one of the largest events that goes on in Hoke County,”said Melissa Pittman, executive director of the festival. “For a county of our size that is a wonderful thing because 50,000 people will participate.” 

   The event, themed “Hatchin up Some Fun,” kicks off with the Turkey Bowl on Friday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. in Raz Autry Stadium at Hoke County High School. The events for Saturday, Sept. 12, include a 5K Pajama Run, a tennis tournament, a cornhole tournament with a cash prize of $500, a car show, a dog show, a $7 per-plate sale with leg quarters and barbecue and The Rivermist Band of Fayetteville, who will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. for a concert at Armory Ball Park. For Sunday, Sept. 13, a tennis tournament is slated at Hoke County High School. The cost is $20 for one event and $30 for two events.  

The opening ceremony is on Monday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m. at the L. E. McLaughlin Senior Room, where sponsors are recognized and refreshments are provided. A card tournament will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Raeford Civic Center and the cost is $7. Each table will win a grand prize and other prizes will be awarded throughout the night. Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 10 a.m., residents over the age of 55 are invited to attend “Senior Day” at 10 a.m. at the Raeford Civic Center. Health screenings are scheduled and a speaker will discuss women’s care for diabetics and the elderly. A Subway bagged lunch is planned followed by bingo. The cost is $5. 

On Thursday, Sept. 17, the Poultry Festival parade will start at 5:30 p.m. on Main Street. Friday, Sept. 18, a “Fitness at the Festival” is planned at the FirstHealth Fitness Center. Demonstrations of equipment and walk-throughs of everything that the center has to offer the residents of Hoke County are available.

A three-on-three adult basketball tournament is set for Saturday, Sept. 19, at 9:45 a.m. at Hoke County High School. The fee is $45 per team. A three-on-three youth basketball tournamentis scheduled at 10 a.m. at McLaughlin Park. The registration deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 9. First and second place winners will receive trophies and T-shirts. Entertainment begins at 10 a.m. Food, crafts and informational and commercial vendors are on site from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. There will be a children’s corner where children can make crafts and ride ponies at 9 a.m. A cooking contest with any kind of poultry product takes place on Sept. 19 at 9 a.m. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners.  

   “We want everyone to come out and enjoy the fun,” said Pittman. Ticket cost for the rain or shine concert is $10. The cost of the 5K pajama run is $20 early registration and $25 the day of the event. For more information call 904-2424. 

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