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Hope Mills is gearing up for its biggest fundraiser of the year — Ole Mill Days — on Friday, Oct. 16 and Saturday, Oct. 17. It’s a time to celebrate the town’s heritage, make some new memories with friends and family and, for some, to relive some old memories about a time when Hope Mills was not so busy and bustling. A simpler time when the local mills drove not just the economy, but the ebb and flow of life in the area.  

“Ole Mills Days is a celebration of Hope Mills and our history,” said Dee Callahan, executive director of the Hope Mills Chamber. “It is a time for the families to get together and there are all sorts of events for the kids.” 

Callahan added that she was born and raised in Hope Mills and looks forward to the annual event.

There is plenty to see and do — and much to learn, as well. The event begins on Friday with the first street dance at 6 p.m. While the dance lasts till 11 p.m., it is the perfect opportunity to check out historic downtown’s Trade Street.

On Saturday at 7 a.m. the Run for Pink Race takes place. It’s the third year for the run and it has grown substantially every year. The event organizers are hoping for a turn out of 750 or more. It is a 5K route and walkers are welcome, as well. Proceeds benefit the Cape Fear  Valley Health Foundation Friends of Cancer. Find out more about this organization at www.capefearvalley.com/foundation/index.html. Visit www.active.com to register for the race.

The opening activities begin at 10 a.m. and include a variety of activities. The tractor pull, is a local favorite and always keeps the crowd riveted. Families won’t want to miss the Kid’s Corner and games. It is the perfect place to relax and let the little ones join the festivities. Car buffs of every stripe will have something to talk about at the car show. Other activities include a haunted house, cheerleading competition, pony rides, bouncy houses, food and craft vendors and demonstrations by dance troupes, karate studios and local musicians.

The corn hole tournament is a lot of fun, even for those who choose not to play. It’s competitive and lively and all in good fun. Registration for the corn-hole tournament is by noon and the games start at 1 p.m. Prizes will be given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. The cost is $25 to participate in the tournament.

The Ole Mill Days reunion has been a highlight of this event in years past. It’s a place where previous generations gather to share stories and memories about Hope Mills and what it was like as a mill town. It is a chance to reconnect with the town’s past and learn a bit of local history first hand.

One especially popular event at Ole Mills Days is the Hope Mills Chamber’s Chili Cook Off. For years, local chefs have brought forth offerings of their favorite chili recipes to the delight of the attendees and judges. The chili cook off
 is Oct. 17 and it is sponsored by the Hope Mills Chamber. 

“We have the chili cook off every year and it is our only fundraiser because the Hope Mills Chamber is a nonprofit,” said Callahan. “We have WKML 95.7 as our sponsor for the chili cook off and a corn-hole tournament that is sponsored by Up & Coming Weekly.” 

Contestants can enter their chili in the competition for $15. Cash prizes and plaques will be given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. Chili can be dropped off at 10 a.m. and the announcement of the winners is at 3:30 p.m. There is a People’s Choice Awards in which the public can purchase small containers of all the chili to sample. They will have the opportunity to vote for the chili that they like the best. A $100 cash prize will be awarded.   

The evening concludes with a movie night in Municipal Park.  

Even though it is right around the corner, there is still time for vendors and sponsors
to participate. 

“We are selling tents that you can purchase for $250,” said Callahan. “It comes with a sign, one table and eight chairs.” Callahan added that you can advertise your business underneath the tent and give away items but you are not allowed to sell anything under your tent.   

Admission is free. For more information, call 424-4555. If you are interested in performing at the street dance, call 426-4109.


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