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Columbus County town host state’s oldest agricultural festival

Published: Apr. 30, 2013 at 4:23 PM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2013 at 12:24 PM EDT
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This weekend, the town will host their 81st Strawberry Festival, the oldest continuing...
This weekend, the town will host their 81st Strawberry Festival, the oldest continuing agricultural festival in North Carolina.

CHADBOURN, NC (WECT) - Just about every spring weekend, you can find at least two or three festivals taking place in Southeastern North Carolina and this weekend is no exception.

In Burgaw, the annual Pender County Spring Festival takes place Saturday around the historic Pender County Courthouse; and Lake Fest will be held Saturday in Wilmington at Greenfield Lake.

In Chadbourn, it is time for strawberries to be honored. This weekend, the town will host their 81st Strawberry Festival, the oldest continuing agricultural festival in North Carolina - and the town is ready.

All thru Chadbourn, you'll find homes decorated with strawberry emblems, and many of those homeowners participate in the festival, because volunteers are the ones behind all of the hard work.

"We have a lot of great people working with us," said Gayle Williamson, the Strawberry Festival Chairperson. "From May until May, the festival is going on as far as committees are concerned."

In the early 1900s, Chadbourn was nicknamed "The Sunny South Colony" and the main crop was strawberries. The continued success of the industry eventually became a reason for entertainment, and in 1926, the Chadbourn Strawberry Festival was born.

There will be strawberries for sale this weekend in Chadbourn, but maybe not as many as in years past. Like other agricultural crops in the state, strawberries have been affected by the weather, and since the plants got their blooms and eventual berries, we have experienced less than ideal growing conditions.

"Strawberries actually need plenty of warm weather," said Tim Edmund, one of the area's largest producer. "The early spring was not too bad, the plants have grown well up until the last three weeks when we had a dip in the temperatures. I think, overall, it probably delayed most every grower at least one week and for some, two weeks."

Despite the rain of the past couple of days, Edmund says the crop is coming around. So once again this year, a trip to Chadbourn for the festival means a very merry and berry weekend for the entire family.

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